Sunday, October 21, 2012

Ahhhh..It's That Time Again

     Feels like it has been forever since our last adventure in Ruby. The weather is finally cooling down some so we hit the road once again in Ruby. This school year has been chaotic and full of changes so we were all craving some time away even if it was just for one night. Saturday after my morning run we hit the road for another new state park, South Llano River State Park.
     South Llano River State park is about 140 miles away. We drove there via Fredricksburg and then Junction. The campground was just down the road from Junction. The Llano river flowed peacefully thru the park. the headquarters was located inside a quaint old farmhouse. Our site was reserved but the grounds were already pretty full. We scored a site on the back side of a loop that backed up to a field.
     Earlier in the summer I discovered a mesh net thing under my the passenger seat in Ruby. Wasn't sure what it was but now we know. It is a screen for the back of Ruby! So we get fresh air the whole night but Ruby is protected from flies and mosquitoes. It was a true find especially considering that we were about to order one. It made a world of difference last night with the temperature only falling into the 60's.
     Once we set up we trekked to two of the park's many bird blinds. A large area of the park was blocked off for turkey roosting. The first bird blind had cardinals, white winged dove, black crested titmouse, ruby crowned kinglit, notheren mockingbird, field sparrow, white crowned sparrow, lesser goldfinch and a yellow throated vireo. Out of all three of the ones we visited it had the least variety. The second blind was a bit of a hike towards the exit of the park. A gray fox crossed the road on our trek! Once there we saw many birds including a spotted towhee and lincolns sparrow as well as the other species seen at the first blind. We chatted with a fellow birder from Wisconsin. She was sweet and very impressed with the boy's knowledge of birds. The sun was getting lower so we headed back towards our site. On the way back we were delayed by a heard of 30 or more axis deer crossing the road! It was surreal they just kept pouring out of the brush. Also saw a beautiful Eastern Meadowlark in the field.
     Paco made a rocking fire and we ate an assortment of baked cheetos, almonds and beef stroganoff from a bag. The boy, Paco and I conversed about a multitude of subjects ranging from greatest fears in life to the coolest things we would invent. We talked late into the night as the champagne flowed for me, beer for Paco and root beer for the boy. But soon the boy retired and I was not far behind. Paco, in typical Paco fashion stayed up much later and saw some white tailed deer pass 20 feet away and 3 shooting stars.
     The boy was up first and we rose shortly after. Quick cliffbar breakfast washed down with diet coke and we hiked to the last bird blind. Same species but we also saw a pair of scrubjays, hermit thrush and a black throated sparrow. (I am not a birder this list is courtesy of the boy.) We also hiked a mile and a half up to an overlook that showed the whole campground and surrounding fields.
     The temperature was climbing so we didn't stay as long as planned. The boy is not only into birds but insects as well, especially dragonflies. He caught one in his net and accidentally decapitated it. It was a male variegated meadowhawk. Did you know that there are over 142 species of dragonflies in Texas? 3,000 species worldwide!! Nerdy I know but oh so cool..
     Overall South Llano River State Park was beautiful and peaceful and we will definitely be back!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Camping With the Cousins, Abiliene State Park

Abilene State Park

Hi there folks! It's me! Amy's little sister and now guest blogger for Ruby's road.  Couldn't be more excited to write about our adventures to Abilene State park.  These plans to go camping all started in early spring when my kids, Ellen (6) oh no sorry, she is 6 1/2  :) and Joey (2), and I started to plan out annual Texas trip.. Initially plans were to fly to Amarillo, but as it turns out flying to Austin from San Diego was oodles cheaper,especially when flying x3.  My brilliant older sister suggested that we fly to Austin (o' twist my arm) and drive up to the AMA together...ROADTRIP! Heck ya! Oh wait... The 2 year old?! 9 hour drive, no can do kimosabe! Are you crazy? Do you like pain? In the form of crying that only a 2 year old strapped down in a car seat can dish out?  Oh wise sister what's that you say? Camp half-way there in your new snazzy Eurovan? Yep, were in! Right kids? Wanna go camping with Auntie Amy in Texazzzz?  Yeah!! from the 6.5 yr old and a Who-Hawww! from the 2 year old.. And that's dear readers how it began...

We started off on Thursday morning 9am... (sounds like rocket man from Elton John, no?). Eurovan packed..I watched Amy one day prior make a dozen lists or so for this trip, so I'm pretty sure we had everything.. I was busy chasing kids, which is probably why again we don't camp.  On the road again, just can't wait to get on the road again (thanks Willy!) headed to Brownwood, Texas for lunch...  At a place called Underwoods, they are famous for their cobbler and yes it was indeed yummy! Yes, go there for cobbler! and nothing else... :/ we landed at Abilene state park around 3pm, checked in at the park ranger station and received a signed personalized map of the park! Only in Texas dear readers!  As we entered in the camp it was so green and lots of shady trees.  As we entered the screened shelter areas we were pleasantly surprised, as it was very cute and almost completely shaded.  We jumped out of the van and opened the screened shelter... Hmmmm?... So the floor was swept and reasonably clean, but dark, and the corners of the room just seemed that there may been small creepy crawly creatures lurking there, not to mention the little critters that might be crawling underneath the door.  So sleeping plans were rearranged...we emptied out the van and decided that Amy and Caleb would sleep up in the top part of the eurovan and my kiddos and I on the bottom.. Problem solved!
Next on the agenda was to swim!  The park had a swimming pool! Perfect for us to chill out from the hot Texas midday sun!  An historical tidbit about this pool was that it was built decades ago by the Civilian Conservation Corp, it was cool to see the retro-ness of this pool and to imagine all the summer memories this pool brought to the area, not to mention cool relief from the hot summer.  But that was not the best part... The best absolute part was the...(drum roll please!) the 12 foot diving board! I mean when was the last time you saw a diving board like this?  They don't exist anymore! I assume they are just too much of a liability these days... What a shame!  The kids made a beeline for the diving board much to my surprise! With no hesitation the kiddos climbed up and jumped! Even my baby girl!  I was nervous, shocked and sooo proud!  Everyone had a turn at the board except Joey, who was content in the little toddler pool until he wasn't, and was held in the big pool.  After swimming we headed back to our camp ground, rinsed off at the bathroom near our camp site and hung the swimsuits to dry.  The adventure seeking Caleb, a pro at camping I might add, sought out the nearby bird blind.  Poor kid loves birds and my kids well, they are loud and didn't get the memo that one must be quiet to see the birds.. But after traipsing back there multiple times, we finally all went back to see the bird blind and it was super cool.  One sits inside this little cabin on a bench and watches out a large window onto this playground for birds.  Once everyone quieted down the birds would fly to their 'playground' to eat, chase each other or simply sit there looking amazing.  At this point it was getting to be dinner time so we took the short walk back to our camp site and as we were getting closer what did out wondering eyes should appear but 3 ant-hungry armadillos. So cute! The kids loved them! And by the way, armadillos don't run away, they sort of waddle away. And they weren't that startled we had arrived. What a neat-o sighting!
Next was the gourmet dinner! Hot dogs and chips for the kids. A charcuterie of hard salami and goat cheese for the sisters, oh and wine! Fancy! Yum and perfect for a warm summer night...and the s'mores! Not camping without s'mores..
As things were settling down for the night, pj's on, teeth brushed.  Amy walks back from the bathroom to say that she saw a bobcat, which I imagined as a mountain lion. Yikes! As she saw my freak-out level rise, she mentioned quickly that it was the size of a large house cat... Whew.. I could totally take that on! No worries!  Eventually, tired young kids were sawing logs while older kids and sisters stayed up, circled around the kerosene lantern watching for low flying owls.  Finally, everyone headed to bed, unfortunately the eurovan was much warmer than being outside.. After blasting the air conditioner, it cooled down, but was still warm inside the van.  In the middle of the night, amy jumped ship to sleep in the shelter *shutter*..  As the morning sun rose, kids looked bright-eyed and bushy tailed and moms needed some coffee STAT!  We quickly packed up the van and headed out of the park at exactly 8:05am.  On the way out we saw some momma deer and baby fawns. We ahhh-ed at them and snapped some photos..
Abilene State Park! You are a gem in the middle of Texas!  Loved the trees, had lots of nature, and although we didn't get to experience the lake, it was for certain a great time and a very well-kept State park.  P.s. don't take down the diving board!!  What a fun experience for us San Diegans!
Thanks to my wonderful sister for arranging this camping trip and making some lasting summer memories for my children!  Until next time.... :)

**I loved taking you and Joey and Ellen, sis! Until next summer or this fall-possibly? xoxo

Sunday, June 10, 2012

A 3 Hour Tour!

     Bummer! We were supposed to go to Balmorhea this past weekend. We were going to spend two nights there and one night in the Davis Mountains. But as the weekend crept up so did the temperatures! The forecast called for 102 and 103 degrees. I know that is West Texas dry heat but it just sounded too hot. SO we switched plans and decided to spend a few nights at Inks Lake State Park...hence our 3 hour tour.
     We departed mid morning and we decided to take the boats. Ruby is not outfitted yet to haul the boats. She is getting her roof resurfaced and painted later this summer so the racks are on our other car, Ole Red. Ole Red was our camping car before Ruby and she has not been feeling the love so we decided to go old style and car camp. Man she was packed. I forgot how much more crap you need when you sleep in tents. It takes a lot more time to pack up too.
     The drive was scenic and we arrived early afternoon. The main parks office was crowded which should have been our first clue. We had reservations but still there were only a handful of sites left. Paco requested one in the shade and there was one left. Fingers crossed we went to check it out.
     Inks Lake State Park is Big..There were at least 300 camping sites. But there are literally on top of each other. When we pulled into our camping spot deep down we all were feeling the same thing, No Way In H-E-double hockey stick are we staying here! But we dutifully got out walked around and even thought about where we would set up the tent. Then we glanced around at the other campers that were less then a living room (a small Allandale sized living room) away. I mean we would have been able to hear them fart, they were that close! Our eyes all met at the same time and we nodded our heads, no!
     But we had driven almost 2 hours to get there we would at least take advantage of the lake and get some time in our canoe and kayak. Back in Ole Red we circled the park to find a place to park close to the lake. There was NONE to be had. I was bummed all that for nothing. We decided to head home.
     The journey home was quiet. The boy and I nodded off. Around Spicewood we started perking up a bit and even saw the humor in our 3 Hour Tour. We at least know that Inks Lake State Park is not the park for us, maybe in the winter? We are experts at strapping down the boats. And we were getting to sleep in an air conditioned house. I texted my girlfriend and told not to worry about the girls (our dogs, Juno and Sassafrass).
     In the end I knew it was the right decision but I so wanted to camp. Instead I got some tree time (our code for drinking outside under the trees) with my girlfriend, a nice steak dinner and we watched the NBA playoff game. Ruby is taking some time off for a while her next adventure is not until July when we head north..Peace and love, Aunt Rosa :)

Friday, June 8, 2012

Ruby's Been Busy!

     It's the first week of summer and already Ruby has been to 4 state parks! She escorted myself, the boy and five new friends around to give them a taste of Ruby's awesomeness and hopefully inspire some future explorers, campers and who knows eurovan owners. :) These were of course just day trips.
     The first adventure was close by and not new to Ruby, McKinney Falls. A perfect introduction to newbies. They all looked so cute in Ruby! I knew somehow I would get my 5 kids I had always dreamed of, including one little girl who kept me in stitches the entire trip!
      We arrived early and quickly set off exploring. I did not pick up a park map, I felt pretty confident in my navigation skills to lead the troops..I know better than that. I was not born with an internal navigation system of any kind in fact I think that part of my brain is missing entirely! We started off on the Homestead Trail, they had to see the Homestead. Well it ended up being a 3 mile or so jaunt. Luckily I was carrying all the water bottles. They were amazing though and noone complained. When we finished everyone was hot and hungry. So we shoveled in some grub and went to splash in the falls and river.
     Now the sign at the park entrance said the e-coli levels were relatively low and the water was moving but nonetheless I instructed everyone to swim with their mouths closed and if possible don't go under. I had also carted some tubes which they all demanded at once. So I blew up 5 inner tubes in record time and got a little light headed! They had a blast and I reminisced about the college days of floating the river with a few cold ones.
     Afterwards it was time to get back so we loaded up. It was the shortest of our trips. We had time leftover for snow cones from Snow Beach. The crew innocently asked if they could get extra larges and I absentmindedly agreed. Holy cow they were huge! We got a few stares and dirty looks from other moms who's kids asked if they could get the big ones too, oops..I don't care we were making memories and I was about to drop them off anyways. :)
     Day 2 was supposed to be Blanco State Park but with a slight chance of rain the rest of the week I wanted to get our farthest destination covered so we were off to Enchanted Rock. It was a smooth and easy drive no traffic at all and the gang had invented some interesting car games. Ruby's seating system is one of my favorite features! They all face each other and there is a table for games (although on the way back I wanted to toss their dice out the window!) It really the optimal car for family road trips. Maybe I could get a side gig for Volkswagen?
      These kids are part mountain goat so we were up to the top in no time at all. It was hot but breezy. The boy found the caves and we all ate lunch inside. Then the posse explored the caves and I relaxed in the shade and had horrible flahsbacks to that movie with the cute guy who had to cut off his arm to get out from underneath the boulder, yeh we didn't explore the caves too long. Plus I really wanted to get some peach ice cream and see LBJ's ranch on the way back.
     I have never been to Lyndon Baines Johnson's ranch, his library yes but not his ranch. It is between Fredricksburg and Johnson City. I turned in and must have taken a wrong turn and missed the visitors center? We ended up touring the ranch for free, oops! We saw his birth house, airplane, school house and lots of cows.The best part was the school house and the crew was amazed that it was all grades in one room. Never found the visitors center so we left and went to get peach ice cream! Yum..and a ginormous jar of pickled okra for me..This summer time stuff is pretty sweet.
     Day 3 Blanco State Park I forgot the ask the kiddos which state park was their favorite but I am pretty sure it was this one. It was my favorite drive! I love little two lane windy, hilly roads and everything was still green and filled with wildflowers. There is one hill or bluff that overlooks a huge valley that brings tears to my eyes every time I see it. I always hear my dad saying in his West Texas twang, "Now this is God's country!" It really is a lovely drive. :) It is also close to where Paco and I got hitched so I love it for sentimental reasons as well..
     Did you know that Blanco is the smallest of the state parks? It is smack dab in the middle of town. There are also lots of cute antique shops, not to self.  The river was filled and ready for half a dozen or so rowdy ones to splash away. I thought I was being smart by driving around and picking the least populated spot to set up our day camp. I had the quilt spread out, the cooler on the table, the bunch sunscreened up and I heard a fisherman remark that he had just seen a giant water moccasin! YUK! I quickly called Paco and asked for advice. He advised that we move back to where the masses were. SOOooo we packed up quickly and set up camp again.
     It wasn't that crowded and it had a concreted area that was fish free. The peeps loved it and swam for hours! The river was beautiful. After lunch we hiked up a bit with our tubes and all jumped in (we didn't want to be near the sides where the snakes like it) and floated peacefully down. Everyone was content and free. I will definitely be back to Blanco State Park.
     And lastly day 4 Bastrop State Park  I picked this park for purely selfish reasons. I knew it had recently reopened and wanted to check it out and support it. What a beautiful park this must have once been! It was heartbreaking but at the same time beautiful. Among the charred ruins of tall pines was green, lots of green sprouts thriving so it gave me hope.
     The kids were tired and rightly so we had been going non stop. I talked them into a small hike and I think they enjoyed it. The boy had a lot of fun pointing out different birds to them. The only problem was that there wasn't much shade and it got steamy fast. Luckily it was only about 2 and half miles and I had carted the water along.
     The park had these historic old cabins created by the CCC, the Civilian Conservation Corps back in 1934! And a nice size fishing pond. Ruby will definitely be back.
     The park also had a swimming pool which motivated the kiddos to finish the hike. The pool was very retro and reminded me of the country club pool I swam in as a child in Plano. It was a refreshing reward.
     Sadly it was time to head back. On the way we made a total touristy stop at the pecan place, you know that giant billboard with the scrolling list advertising that they have pecans. It has a giant squirrel! They were all over it and we took some silly photos.

     This camp was one of my visions when I first wanted a Eurovan. I imagined a car full of young uns just driving around our big state exploring. This week fulfilled one of my greatest life desires. I loved it and it filled me up in more ways then one. I think besides teaching my life calling is to get kids out there exploring..Ain't life great!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Ruby's All Nighter!

     I just now feel 100% recovered to finally write about this first for Ruby. No it wasn't an all night camping trip, it was Ruby's first all night driving trip and by driving I mean slow and lots of stops. Ruby was a SAG wagon of sorts for our relay team in the Run to the Sun Relay. This was my second time to participate in the relay and Ruby and Paco's first time. The cause Beyond Batten has a place very near and dear to my heart. I have a beautiful soul in my class that I have had the great fortune of teaching not one but two years. She is the reason that I looped with my class last year. She motivates and teaches Me something new everyday.
     So Ruby began her journey on a sunny Saturday morning. We met the rest of the team at school in the afternoon and drove to Enchanted Rock, the starting line this year (it was backwards this year.) I rode with Paco and we jammed (does anyone even use that word anymore-really dates us) to Jim's legendary cassettes. The rest of our fabulous team was riding in the luxury passenger bus with it's own driver. We took time to decorate the bus as she paled in comparison to Ruby. Ruby was covered with messages scribbled on her with shoe polish. She was glowing!
     Our team consisted of mostly teachers and a few exceptional parents and our trainer who I will dub Abs! She is the most selfless person I have ever known. She worked our tails off for months for free to get us in shape for this run. Not only that she is Beautiful inside and out! With her training I knew we were in good shape to win the entire relay. :) We were also blessed with another friend who rode her bike on many of our legs. She too is selfless and beautiful to boot!  No but seriously we were a pretty fit and good looking group. Ok I am rambling on but it is hard to remember everything. Our first runners, kindergarten teachers extraordinaire were off. In my opinion they had some of the hardest legs in the midday sun and up out of a valley! But they were strong and ran both of their legs early on.
     Then the rest seriously becomes a blur! Everyone ran at least two legs consisting of 4 to 7 miles. Ruby was our lifesaver offering cold water, gatorade and encouragement. Because I didn't want Paco to drive alone I mostly rode with him and had a blast. I yelled, danced and even mooned my friends. It was my favorite part of the journey. Paco was a navigating machine mapping out the miles and knowing when to give the runners space and when we needed Ruby the most, like at the top of ?/@#$%  hills! So here is a list of Ruby's top ten moments from the relay...

1. Getting shoe polished!

2. Witnessing all the amazing heel clicks that Mr. B made famous

3. Making tunnels for all the runners to run thru

4. Watching all the strong runners giving it their ALL

5. Handing out gatorade, cold washclothes and ice cold water

6. Driving past the beautiful wildflowers and scenic hill country

7. Being the only one out on the road besides our runners (that is because we were winning)

8. Giving the runners Hope and motivation to get up the hill

9. Having a big enough sliding window to moon one of my bf's

10. Being part of this incredible experience for such a wonderful cause

Friends words will never be able to fully describe the feeling that I have still in my heart after this experience. A heart full of gratitude, love, friendship and HOPE. You are all so amazing and I can't wait to do it all again. Thank you to everyone who donated to this cause. You know that our team raised almost $18,000 and won team spirit! And we know that really we won :)  Until next year keep getting out there and soaking it in. Peace and love! monamie
Video of our Relay

Sunday, April 8, 2012

It Feels Like The First Time...

     This trip was one of many firsts. Starting with the first, 1st camping over Easter weekend. Oh, how a four day weekend is just the perfect amount of time. Colorado Bend State Park is about two hours drive from Austin. It is between Lampasas and San Saba in a tiny town called Bend. We left on a Friday along with everyone else in Austin. Traffic is sometimes abysmal! I packed us up and well this wasn't a first but I forgot a few essentials but nothing the HEB in Lampasas couldn't handle. Besides how much fun would it be if I remembered everything?
     The drive once we got out of Austin was beautiful. Blankets of bluebonnets as far as you could see. Mother Nature has been good to Central Texas this spring. Once we reached the tiny town of Bend we turned off to the park and traveled about 8 miles on a kaliche road. If you squinted your eyes just right it almost looked like snow covered cedars. By the time we reached the entrance Ruby was a shade of pale. Thank goodness we had reservations the park was full. But it didn't "feel" full.
     Our site was at the end of the loop and we had no neighbors. It even had a secret grove with a fire circle. Ruby got popped up and we headed down to the river. This was our first warm weather camping excursion. We were curious to see how the night would feel later in Ruby. The river was wide and running and we yearned for our canoe (we have been pinning for one!) But the boy and Paco brought their rods and tested the waters. Another first, fishing while camping. While playing we spotted an osprey and it dove down to catch a fish! Yes, another first!
     Dinner was "mom's" version of the hamburger and it was unanimous that Paco burgers are better. After dinner we lounged around the fire and watched the full moon rise over the ridge. A very majestic sight and another first. We had purchased a propane lantern so that we could play cards but the lantern never got turned on. Just long talks and plans being made..The next day we wanted to get up early and hike to Gorman Falls. Ruby was a little warm that first night but we opened the windows and cooled off fast.
     The next morning we rose early for us and headed out on our hike. Just a 7 mile jaunt but I was wishing I had brought my trail shoes for running. I will get these boys to run yet! The hike was a little bit of everything. Shaded trail underneath a canopy of trees, full sun fields of cactus and Texas poppies and rocky canyon with a cave. It was also a birder's paradise and we made frequent stops to have Paco point out new species including several firsts. I finally saw the elusive golden cheeked warbler! But the coolest first was a hummingbird nest. The hummingbird was flitting in and out and the nest was the size of a chicken egg with the top cut off. Apparently this was pretty rare. All in all we saw/heard the white eyed vireo, red eyed vireo, chuck will's widow, black and white warbler, lesser goldfinch, house finch, morning dove, canyon wren, Carolina wren, cardinals, great horned owl, eastern phoebe and American crow!
     The trail came into another trail and then descended down a rocky ledge. It was steep but there was a metal rope for holding. Before we saw the falls we heard a massive crack and then crash a giant tree has just crashed into the ravine. Earry but cool sound. The falls were impressive and reminded me of falls we had seen in Oregon. They are a rare geologic formation. The water over time deposits this calcite and makes these beautiful travertine formations. It was very lush, green and cool. We sat for a spell, ate our cliff bars and then decided to head back before it got too hot.
     The journey back was warmer and the last mile seemed to take forever but we made it. Scrounged up some lunch of cheese, salami, crackers and apple. I was sleepy so Paco turned Ruby on and cranked the ac and I took a little siesta. We wouldn't normally do that but our site was in full sun at that hour. Energized and refreshed the boy and I changed into our swimsuits loaded up the rods, tackle stuff and chairs. The plan was to let him fish and I would soak in the water and chill. But the plans shifted and the boy fished for maybe five minutes. I have never been much of a sunner especially these days I am a sunscreen nazi. I have never been much a fishing person either. My first fishing experience was outside Hollis, Oklahoma with my great granny. Now she was famous for her fishing, she was always featured in the town paper for setting some record. She smelled like honey and fried chicken and when she hugged you, well you were temporarily lost in all of her folds. She was part Cherokee Indian and she dipped. She was once married to a bank robber. She was beautiful and I loved her! Ok where was I? Oh yeh so bored of just lounging in my chair I picked up the boy's rod and practiced casting a few times. It was fun so I put some bait on and then I was hooked. I fished for over 2 and half hours. I never caught anything but I saw some beautiful fish. It was mesmerizing I loved it. I am hooked on fishing! I hope I get my very own rod for my birthday. So there is another first. Granny that is for you! :)
     Paco eventually joined us he was taking care of a couple of things I forgot like ahem..water. I only brought 2 gallons? Oops. We do now by the way have an official master list that we will consult for every trip from now on. After another half an hour the boy was water logged so we left the river to get cleaned up for dinner. I had just changed out of my bikini and popped my first beer when I heard a squeal, "Mrs. S.!" It was two students in my class and their family. They have heard all about Ruby, I even made them go to the teacher parking lot to see it the first day I drove it to school. We chatted for a bit and then they left. Glad it was a sweet family and glad I had changed clothes :)
     I think I forgot to mention earlier that this whole trip birds were just singing like crazy everyone had mating on the mind. After an easy dinner out of a bag ( they are really quite good, the beef stroganoff is my favorite, we each have our fav.) we sat back and got ready to watch the moon show. But we got another show instead, the stars of this show were Delores and Henry, two armadillos who had love on the brain. They chased each other around our campground for at least 10 minutes. It was quite comical and the boy nicknamed them. Apparently they went back for round 2 after the boy and I had gone to bed. Another first, armadillo mating dance!
     Slept in Easter Sunday! I had brought eggs to hide for the boy. I hid one on top of sleeping Paco. On the way home we took the scenic route (like always) and went thru Cherokee, where the boy's great grandparents used to live. The flowers were even more intense and unfortunately we murdered a lot of butterflies! There were literally hundreds of them all over the road. We introduced the boy to Coopers and ate our fill and then some of bbq. And then were homeward bound..
     Overall this has been one of my favorite parks so far. It had all the elements water, trees and rocky hills. I loved it so much and best of all I discovered another new hobby. I am sad to say that this will be the last entry for probably a month! We got lots of events such as races, graduations and family coming in. Ruby will be an honored guest in the Run to the Sun at the end of the month. She will help cart runners to the next leg of the relay and will be up all night.. Next adventure will be first weekend of summer, it's a surprise. But please let us know if you have any suggestions for other camping spots. Until then get out there and soak it up! Peace and love, mon amie


Sunday, March 25, 2012

Not A State Park But...

     A great park nonetheless! This weekend's adventure was in honor of the boy who turned 11. When asked how he wanted to spend his birthday he said camping. Now that warms my heart! So two weeks ago when he made his request Paco started searching but all the Texas State campgrounds within 2 hours of Austin were already filled. That was good news and bad news. Good that our parks are getting business and bad because we were all itching to get out in Ruby.
      Then I remembered a place where I had done a trail race with some friends in the fall, Bluff Creek, in between LaGrange and Giddings off of HWY 77. I looked up the website and quickly called and got us a spot on Turkey Tank. I was a little anxious because I didn't remember it very clearly and hoped it wasn't some cheesy campground. The woman on the phone was very friendly and helpful when we couldn't remember the turnoff.
     We picked up the boy's best friend and headed off on one of the most beautiful spring days yet! New cassettes courtesy of Jim played loudly as we zoomed down the highway. I must say we have got this camping thing down, we didn't forget anything. Well I did forget to write out the directions but like I said earlier they helped us find it. The ranch is mostly used for mountain bikers there are miles and miles of trails. We arrived late afternoon and pulled up to the main house, in a field where longhorn were grazing, we paid and got our site. A little more dinero than the state camp sites but we got free firewood as much as we wanted! The grounds were sparse with one main camp full of boyscouts across the tank. The boys started exploring immediately and Paco and I set up Ruby and a tent, the boys wanted their privacy.
     The site was beautiful with mature, towering pines, wildflowers and lush grasses. It was right in front of a dock that had swimming access on the tank.  Within half and hour the boy was yelling from the dock that he had caught his first fish. A little perch but that proud grin was priceless. That spurred them on and for the rest of the afternoon the boys were obsessed with fishing and catching random bait.
     Around dusk we started grilling and a man approached us and asked if he and his friends could come onto our campground to release the ashes of a friend off the dock. We solemnly watched 20 or so of them head out on the dock. It was sad watching them bow their heads and I felt a little intrusive being there. Soon they were laughing and making toasts to their friend. It was a bittersweet reminder to treasure your loved ones and tell them you love them every chance you get.
     The time change gave us extra light to play and stay up later. The boy enjoyed having a friend to explore with and they wreaked havoc on the poor june bugs who invaded the fire ring. Then a friendly black and white border collie came over and kept us company. She was nicknamed Tia for her kind eyes and gentle demeanor. I was ready to take her home as soon as I could deflea her. After she ate the remnants of our burgers (which was a nice change form the hotdogs, Thank you Paco) she fell into a comatose state till it was time for her to visit others.
     Not too many night creatures besides a few lone coyotes and a barred owl, although we weren't sure if the barred owl cry was real or imitated? The boys crashed hard and I stayed up a little longer and star gazed with my love. I am just so incredibly thankful for the memories we have already mad with Ruby and we have only had her less then half a year!
     A foggy morning greeted us and the boys had already been up for a few hours. After coffee and discussions about the Hunger Games we went for a little hike. The trails are very well marked and once out on them I was reminiscing about the trail run I had done there in November. I have a goal to run a 50 k this year and decided this weekend that I want it to be in Warda. The boy and Paco could be there and it would be a family affair, maybe Paco would even run part of it with sweet would that be..hint, hint!! There were many dead pines but it was hard to be sad because the fields were covered with wildflowers. The creek, were assuming was the Bluff Creek was flowing and we all enjoyed skipping rocks and hunting for treasures. On the way back Paco heard a golden cheek warbler but we never could spot it.

     Usually the morning after the last night of camping is rushed but on this trip we all wanted to savor it. Paco and I took a ride in the canoe around the tank. Then we took the boys. Then we took two more trips, I wish we could have stayed longer. We will definitely be back in November for sure if not sooner...Coming soon Easter Weekend, Colorado Bend State Park. :)

Monday, February 20, 2012

My Cousin Is Sleeping on His Car...

     Those were the words sung from our sweet cousin last night as she was cooking her hot dogs. Cousin Parrot, as she requested her alias to be, can sing on cue about anything. Mark my words someday she will be a superstar! This was a first for Mi Ruby- Guests! Not just any old guests but our cousins from Kansas City and their beautiful momma who came all the way just to go camping with us.
     Because of a spur of the moment entry into the half marathon for Aunt Rosa we got a bit of a later start. Thankfully we were headed just down the road to McKinney Falls State Park. What a gem of a park! So close and yet you felt so remote. Loved it and it is definitely a great spot to take virgin campers.
     We thankfully had reservations because the park was crowded-mostly day trippers. As soon as we pulled into our spot we spotted another Eurovan Westfalia model. It was a surreal moment, no words were exchanged just a tilt of the head and excited wave and point. I'm sure they were thinking, "Yeh super cool peeps got themselves a sweeeet Eurovan just like us." At least that is what I imagined them thinking. :)  Our site # 25 was perfect it backed up to a grove of cedars perfect for climbing and hiding.
     Ruby can comfortably sleep 3 to 4 so we had to set up our tent. A great tent from REI that we purchased last summer. So we gave the cousins first dibs on their sleeping preference and they chose.....the tent. It was their very first time camping, did I mention it was their very first time camping. As their Aunt Rosa I had a mission to make them fall in love with camping and want to come and spend future summers with me! They loved the tent and took a twilight stroll with Paco. While they were off exploring their momma and I watched a guy across the way convert his white Capri Classic station wagon into what we assumed was a love palace complete with velvetty green cushions. He even had some smooth jazz playing..very sexy. We giggled the next morning to see them emerge from the wagon. It takes all types, am I right?
     I know I said I was over hotdogs but the cousins had to have hotdogs and assorted crap food, we even dragged them to Wally World on our way out. In Wally World the cousin's mamma, Aunt BJerky, short for beef jerky, and I contemplated pulling a Father of the Bride move and taking apart a hot dog bun bag. Just kidding but there was one bag open with some buns removed. Who does that?
      They were fascinated with the fire especially the older cousin who chose Cousin Goldfish as her alias. Paco gave her the fire talk, which the boy remarked that he remembered hearing when he was much younger. We had the works dogs, smores and even Jiffy Pop. And other assorted goodies including mommy juice. Once it got dark Aunt BJerky broke out the glow sticks. You would have thought the kids were handed $100 each inside ToysRUs they went nuts. They entertained themselves for at least 1/2 an hour until one stick found its way into a tree and then another started leaking all over the boy. It looked freaky like he had some toxic substance all over him..hmm..maybe it was toxic. It eventually found itself up in the tree as well.
     I worried that the boy would tire of his girl cousins they are younger and well, girls. But he loved having them to play with. They are not your typical first and second grade girls they are brilliant and just a lot of fun. Soon they were playing hide and seek in the dark. Which was fun till kids started falling out of trees. Then the sugar crash hit and the boy was the first to go up to his man cave. The girls hung a little longer until their momma put them to bed. She ended up crashing with them. I drank some more mommy juice but then the effect of the spontaneous half marathon caught up with me and I too went down for the count. Not before hearing some coyotes..That apparently came back much later and much closer according to our night watchman, Paco.
     Morning came fast and we were bombarded with singing birds and tons of robins. The boy set a bad example for his cousins by chowing down on his powdered donuts, sorry Aunt BJerky we really don't let the boy eat like that all the time. Maybe if he had eaten oatmeal like his cousins he would not have fallen out of the tree and then scraped his knees to a bloody pulp, not quite that dramatic but they were gross. On my first trip of the morning to the camp bathroom facilities I got chatted up by a very politically opinionated woman who kept on talking while I was trying to take care of business which stopped that cold..darn it! Seriously I have issues with public bathrooms to begin with and then some crazy woman is going on and on about Rick Perry. Just let me pee in peace!
    Once Paco arose we set off on a hike to the falls. On the way to the trail head we walked passed the dining hall and saw what looked like at first a Renaissance gathering of sorts but as we got closer saw that it was some kind of a Star Wars camp for kids. Interesting indeed..The water, Onion creek was flowing high and fast. So nice to see actual water flowing. The falls were murky and reminded me of chocolate milk. The boy took the lead on our hike and would stop occasionally to give his cousins a brief lesson on the flora and fauna. I think every one's favorite part was the limestone craters filled with puddles. Such a gem for Austinites!
     Sadly some of us have to return to work tomorrow. I get to take the cousins with me tomorrow for half a day so that takes away some of the sting.. Get out there-NOW! Our state parks need our $ and it is good for your heart and soul. Look for our Ruby. :) 

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Come Hell Or High Water

     Or a dirty house, a stack of papers to grade or contracts to write we still managed to get out of town for a night. Just down the road a bit past Bastrop to Buescher State Park. We didn't leave till after 3 the boy had a basketball game. Glad we stayed around for that because he made a free throw and missing that proud ear to ear grin would have been a crime.
     So this was another inaugural trip for Ruby. It was Paco and Mom's first time in Ruby alone (cue the Barry White :) ) We cruised down thru Bastrop listening to some new tunes courtesy of a good friend who loves music. He gave us a whole case logic case (remember those) full of not just tapes but mix tapes. I want to take a longer trip soon just to listen to tapes. Seeing some of the devastation around Bastrop was sad but not nearly as heartbreaking as what we would see the next day.
     We pulled up to the park just at sunset, good thing we had reservations. Home for the night was the Lakeview loop site #41. I'm telling you the specifics because I think it was the best spot of the whole park. It backed into a ridge and there was only one neighbor. Overall a very quaint and quiet campground, all tents. Two campsites over was a very brave dad with 4 kids. They seemed to be having a great time and Dad was patiently and respectfully listening to his girls debate the qualities of Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez.
     Because it was already getting dark Paco started a huge fire. I think he bought all the wood at the camp entrance. But that was a good thing because the temperature dropped fast.
      We love the boy but it was a nice change to camp alone. Just to sit around the fire, discuss life things and be mushy. Paco and I are kindred spirits who relish our time together. And NO hot dogs! Just beer, wine, almonds and jalapeno chips. We were so engrossed in our conversations that we kind of forgot to eat.
     AND then we heard it, well Paco heard it before but it was my first time to hear it. The barred owl mating call. I have never heard something so unusual; it was fast, loud and done. Kind of reminded me of camping in Connecticut. I heard a similar cry and asked Paco what the mysterious noise was he replied. "Uh that would be the tent just across the way."  They too had a mating call similar to the barred owl!
     Lots of wine and stories later I was sleepy so I went to our bed. This time we tried replicating our big bed at home. We had blankets, comforter, quilts and pillows. One of my biggest complaints about camping is the sleeping bag. It traps you in and is not conductive to cuddling. Even with all the blankets it was ***cold! Don't think I have ever slept so close to Paco all night long.
     We slept in later than usual without the boy climbing in and out. I arose first and sat with my coffee and basked in the morning sun. No agenda, no email, no phone or to do list. Just me and the birds, wish every morning began this way. Once Paco finally woke up we decided to do a quick hike before leaving. It was a 7 mile loop but we only did half of it. On the trail we came across another couple. There seemed to be something flapping from their behind. I just figured it was their backpack strap. Uh no it was a tail like thing, kind of like a squirrel tail. It was really funny and I bite my lip as we passed them so I wouldn't laugh. I bet they bought them at Bucees! The rest of the hike was quiet as we were regaining our equilibrium from the night before. We did come very close to a red shouldered hawk, so close you could see it blinking it's eyes. She just stared at us showing off her beautiful plumage.
     I wanted to stay longer. I did not want to go home to reality but Paco had work to do and the boy would be home soon. In true Ruby spirit we took the back roads home and that was where we saw the real devastation of the fires. Tall forests completely charred and mailboxes to no homes. The hardest image to see was that of a tall white stone fireplace all alone in a black abyss. Heartbreaking.. But there were already many homes rebuilt and still many others under construction. The people of Bastrop have a fighting spirit.

     Well got some busy weekends ahead so Ruby will take a 2 week break and then we will be back at it.. Get out there and share your adventures!

Monday, January 16, 2012


    I always thought these were the words to one of my favorite Steve Miller songs. As we drove down the road I was belting it out, "Chug-a-lug it's driving me mad making me crazy." Paco said, "What did you just say and I confidently sang out, "Chug-a-lug!"  He then informed that it was Jungle Love not Chug-a-Lug, whatever I will still sing Chug-a-lug it sounds better!
     This weekend's adventure was not far just about an hour and a half away. Who knew so many state parks were so close? We picked Palmetto state park for our next adventure. Palmetto is south close to Gonzales and a tiny town called Ottine. We arrived late afternoon (basketball is going to present a bit of a challenge for a while). The park office was closed so just drove in and picked a site. This park was much more tent friendly in fact there were only a few rv's and those belonged to the camp host.
     Seriously took us 10 minutes to set Ruby up. She attracted a lot of attention this trip. Within thirty minutes of arriving 3 people stopped to check her out. "What in-carnation is that?"  Our camp host, from Michigan also admired Ruby commenting that she looked brand new..The campground itself was small but quaint. We were surrounded by many tall post oaks, cedar elm, sycamore and pecan trees.
     We got a fire going quickly and the temperatures fell just as fast. Probably our coldest night of camping yet. Had Nathan's hotdogs again (I am over the hotdogs!) and broke out the chat pack-a conversation card pack that we got at Waterloo many moons ago. They are fun conversation starters that make us laugh and sometimes even get into heated debates. The boy was really tired, after his first basketball game and retired especially early. I managed to stay up a little longer but the long run (where I got lost earlier that morning) and the wine lulled me into sleepy mode.  But before I hit my bag I heard the coyotes and a barred owl. Paco braved the clear beautiful night alone and came to bed later reporting that he heard 3 owls; the barred, screech and great horned owl! Along with a donkey and random country dogs.
     Slept great and didn't hear a thing (I sleep with ear plugs) but it was *** cold!  Once I got up I was surprised to feel that it was actually warmer outside then in Ruby. We lazed around and read had some coffee and non-burnt oatmeal. I was in Ruby changing when a family walking by decided to stop and check out Ruby. I whispered loudly to Paco to get them away that I was well... naked. He snickered and opened the sliding door to show the full moon...just kidding he quickly answered their questions and said that someone was changing otherwise he would show them the inside. I breathed again..
     We walked to the headquarters to register and pay. It was only about 1/4 of a mile away but we saw several bluebirds, a kinglet and an orange-crowned warbler-all in about 5 minutes. The ranger at the headquarters was nice but very dry and warned us to make sure that our fires were out. We then set out to hike several loops around the park. It was an interesting hike so many birds! This time Paco wrote them all down for me..white throated sparrow, mockingbird, Caracas, phoebes, cardinals, Carolina wren, winter wren, red-shouldered hawk and more I am sure that I am forgetting. The terrain ranged from riparian to Ottine swamp with boardwalks and these huge palmetto palms (which reminded me of palm Sunday) to more of a South Texas landscape with mesquite, anacua trees and  prickly pears. There were tell-tale signs of the draught, huge keeled over trees some with trunks as big as trucks. And little signs if spring with thousands of paper whites ready to bloom. The trail was well marked, in fact the whole thing was covered in crushed granite. It would have made a great trail run. I spotted a deer about 100 yards away. I have a good eye and would be a great hunter if I didn't cry.
     The boy got way ahead of us and the dense brush made me a tad nervous of more hog encounters but none this trip. We finished the trail and found ourselves in front of a grand stone hall that was made during the Great Depression by the CCC under F.D.R. There was a great old black and white photo of the men who worked on it. Reminded me of my dad's dad who did some work in California for the CCC.
     Went back to the campground and chowed on some jerkey and cheetos and found the campground pretty much cleared out. There were goldfinches by the hundreds cleaning up the crumbs it was quite amazing to see them all.  We walked to the front lake area and discovered a smaller pond, about the size of an olympic size pool that was swarmed with fishermen. Figured it must have been stocked. We then caught the last 20 seconds of the Texans and Ravens game on radio from a ranger. He talked football for a while and told us that the Saints had won?! He was really old..We considered a boat rental but decided to just hike around the small lake instead. It was a spooky light, very wintery. Great backdrop for the great blue heron on the bank of the lake. All this walking made me sleepy so I took a nap in Ruby.
     A much warmer evening..When Paco bought firewood the camp host had no change so we ended up with about 180 pounds of wood!  The fire started early and stayed big and bright! We thought it would be a quiet night but then the college kids next to us started drinking and it got louder and louder and very entertaining. Although I don't think the park host found it too entertaining. Still heard the coyotes' cries and later the owls returned.
     Packed up quickly the next morning and we were hungry. We planned to hit Lockhart on the drive home. We did have to stop and marvel at a convenient store, not it was too large to be considered a convenience store it was..well a Buc cees!  I had never seen such an establishment. Not sure what impressed me the most the endless bathroom stalls or the hunting attire selection? All we wanted was a ball point pen and a fountain drink. Who would have thought you could buy a whole stuffed buck head in the middle of nowhere?  
   Took the long and scenic way back and saw things you just don't normally see in Austin..
*an old dilapidated billboard in someones front yard with those letters that you arrange-it said "Life without Jesus is like a broken pencil there is no point"
*Kowboy Chiropractic
*2 boxer dogs in the middle of a trampoline
*Every oil pumping jack in the city of Lulling was made into some kind of a character
Just more interesting to take the long way home...

Oh and we got to eat at Smitty's!  Yum..I am not a rib girl I like brisket and sausage but these ribs, well I would eat these ribs. We bought a lot and figured we would bring it home-we ate it all!
Well till next time..get out there!

*This trip was dedicated to out sweet Esme!* We love you and you will always be with us on our adventures. :)



Sunday, January 1, 2012

Ruby's Maiden Voyage

     Well as you can imagine I wanted to drive Ruby everywhere and all the time. But she did already have 82,000 miles on her and has Paco gently reminded me she was an investment. Even though we took her to the best Volkwagen repair ship in Austin, Vee-Dub, and she got a clean bill of health. In fact they said that she was one of the best, BEST and CLEANEST Eurovans they had ever seen! So I drove her a few times to school and that was it.
     Fast forward a month and it was full on Christmas Season! Our original plans fell thru and so we were luckily in Austin. But I had a bad itch to go somewhere and asked Paco to plan our first camping getaway in Mi Rubi (her Spanish name.) We couldn't got too far because we only had two days. I manically began sorting our camping gear and making lists (which I need to write about because everyone should have an essential camping list!) Without a list I did a pretty good job, even Paco was impressed. Then we headed to our neighborhood Wally World to pick up some grub; it's just not a camping trip without Nathan's Dogs. I also had to get the boy some new long underwear for his ever growing limbs. It did feel weird buying our camping staples in the winter.
     The next day early afternoon we were off. We decided that the maiden voyage would be sans girls, Juno and Sassy (our dogs) so we could work out all of the kinks (this was a very good decision as you'll soon read about.)  So with me at the wheel in my giant shades and birkenstocks we took off listening to James Taylor on our cassette player. How cool is that a cassette player! I had to order cassettes off of ebay and got some random tapes. Need to add that to the list..
     She rode like a dream. If you have never driven a Eurovan or been a passenger in the front "co-captain" chair then you are missing out. I feel like I am king, well queen of the road. The boy was spread out in the back with a book and Paco was able unwind from his last minute work projects.
     The drive was about 2 hours. Once we got onto the back roads the scenery was refreshing. Recent rains had made the fields lush with winter grasses and lots of cows basking in the sunshine. We could not have had more perfect weather. One of the roads (if Paco was typing this he would be inclined to specifically name all the roads) had an old railroad track bridge/tunnel thing that I might have gone a little too fast thru but it was all good.
     The park was called Lake Somerville, the Birch Creek Unit. As we rolled to the park headquarters we noticed it looked rather empty. We pretty much had our pick of sites. Our Texas State Parks are facing major budget cuts-really sad..We did our part by purchasing a state park pass. The park manager, John was super kind and helped us on our way.
     Maybe 30 minutes!! It took us maybe 30 minutes to set up our Ruby for camping and mind you that was our very first time to set her all up so really it will probably take us max 15 minutes. We popped her up, pulled out the camping chairs and laid out the bed and PRESTO! We were DONE. Now usually when we camp with the tent it takes us about an hour to get everything set up.
     After arranging our chairs around the fire ring and buying some wood we walked down to the lake, well what was left of the lake. Surprisingly it was quite beautiful in a rustic, wintery way. There were these sections along the beach of tall reeds where we observed hundreds of red-wing blackbirds diving in for the night. We then caught a beautiful sunset and headed back to make a huge fire. (Paco and the boys favorite part of the night!)
     The dogs were yummy but not burnt the way I like them (remember to add tongs to the master list). We were just chilling around the fire watching the night sky slowly fill up with stars when we heard a crunchy sound. We turned to look and low and behold there was a fat (really obese) raccoon stealing our Cheetos. He or she didn't even care that we were staring they just kept stuffing their face. Finally Paco yelled and it slowly sauntered off (mind you that pig came back three more times thru the night!)
     Two dogs and countless other "crap" food later the boy was ready to retire. We sent him up to his perch and he was out. I managed to hang a little longer with Paco where we drank and reflected on the past year. Then I went to bed-downstairs. So much more comfortable then a tent even a tent with an air mattress. Paco tucked and kissed and watched Fatty come back fo rme before he finally retired.
     Ruby has curtains-isn't that cute! We closed them but one side was missing a panel so the morning sun slowly woke us up. Usually when we are camping we are far from home and always on some kind of plan or agenda. This trip there was no plan or agenda and it was heaven! We slowly woke up. I had coffee and made the boy hot cocoa. Later I burned some oatmeal~just made it more campy tasting :)..Then we hung around the reclaimed fire and I crocheted, the boy explored and Paco pondered. It was divine!
*A little gripe* These massive rv's spend hours setting up including their satellites and then they stay inside the RV almost the whole time! What is the point of camping?? Ok I am done..
     Once it warmed up we decided to go for a hike. Nowhere in particular just hike along stop and see the birds (ok so Paco is a HUGE birder and quite the expert) he will see this and make me go back and write each species we saw like the tit mouse, cardinal, more to come I'm sure..We hiked past the park office and then into another area of the park that was deserted. We were in one part where there was tall dried grasses and I heard a shuffling. I looked and saw what I thought were deer at first but then I thought they seemed rather short for deer and realized they were hogs; feral hogs about 10 yards ahead of us! Paco told us to quietly start walking back when one of the hogs at the end of the procession stopped and stared directly at us. This is where I thought I was so thankful that we did not have Juno or Sassy with us. Kind of cool and scary at the same time. Later when we told John about the hogs he informed us that the park would be having a public hunt next weekend.
     On the return hike we decided to walk along the shore. It was full of empty clam shells and other treasures for 10 year old boys. The boy stripped down to his boxers as it got surprisingly warm. I found a beautiful piece of driftwood and got my arm workout carrying it for a while. We went to the corner store by the park entrance to get more wood and matches (ahem..opps I forgot that in my packing) and settled in for our last huge fire.

     The best part of camping to me besides the beautiful scenery is the time I get to spend with my family with no distractions. Just talking, sharing and laughing. We even had a very important talk with the boy about important life stuff.  Our last night we also made a pact to try to hit every Texas State Park within the next two years! And so begins our Journey..Hope you will follow us and be inspired to get out there yourselves..

Ruby's Journey to Texas

     Ruby came into our lives the night before Thanksgiving. She rolled up on one of those tall car transport trucks late in the night. She was so high up I was worried she would fall off. She rolled safely onto our street and I had to refrain from squealing and waking up the neighbors. Paco and I took her for a spin and promptly filled her with gas.
     Ruby is a 2002 Volkwagen Eurovan Westfalia. She is a beautiful ruby red color. I have wanted a Eurovan for as long as I can recall. My dream was always just that a dream until Paco, the boy and I left a cafe in Flagstaff, Arizona 3 years ago. We were on our first family camping adventure across the West. There in front of the cafe was a Eurovan with a For Sale sign prominently placed in the window. Paco casually joked that it would make a cool addition to our fleet and the seed was planted!
     Many searches and failed attempts later we finally found our Ruby! She came to us from Saint Helena, California. It was a rather bold move for a family of 3 to purchase such a thing sight unseen but we felt in our hearts that this was the ONE.
     Thanksgiving Day we finally got to explore Ruby's awesome features, the collapsible card table, the pop up camper and seats that pulled out into a bed for two. We then squealed and screamed with JOY!
     Thus begins our adventures with Ruby and the open road...