Sunday, August 01, 2021

July Coming to an End, Heat, and Looking forward to Cooler Weather

It is really hard to believe that it is August. Where did the summer go? We did a lot over the summer. We started camping, worked on getting in shape (sorta), we went on vacations, and got things done around the house. Sometimes we pack so much into a summer that it makes the summer go by that much faster where if we had nothing planned maybe the summer would drag. But that would not be any fun at all, so we cram as much as we can into the summer to get as much as possible done over the summer months. It is what makes the summer fun and also go by so quickly.

Technically, summer does not end until September 22, but when August ends, that's when it starts feeling to me like summer is over. I can remember as a kid gong to the lake well into September and enjoying the water, tubing, water skiing, etc., but still, in my head, it feels as though the end of July and summer is coming to an end. Granted, I could say that for the end of August too as grade schools are back in full session, but I think for me it feels like summer is over thinking back to when I was a kid and end of July meant school was starting.

Like Oliver ... I am Sad for Summer to Leave

Like our dog, Oliver, when it is so hot, staying inside is a must. When I have been outside and back in the house, I just want to lay around and do nothing. So, while I am sad to see summer gradually come to an end, I am happy to know that cooler weather is behind the change and we will start the whole process again where I can look forward to summer again next year.

I hope you have had a great summer! Hopefully you were able to do a vacation over the summer months or have a vacation planned as we come down to the end of the summer months. What is your favorite time of the year and where do you live?

Until next time, have a great week!


Sunday, July 25, 2021

Our Vacation to Dallas, Houston, and Texarkana in the Summer of July 2021

Carrie and I Before Taste of Texas Dinner
Carrie and I went on vacation from July 9 through July 20 to Texas. We stopped in Dallas to visit our friend Javier and then on to Houston to visit our friend Corrie and her family. This update will highlight some of the places we visited and some of our trip. No, it will not be a day-by-day account of what we did, so hopefully it will not be too boring and you will read all of what I have to say and comment.

Winery in Texas
Our first night in Dallas, Javier took us to Fortunata Winery. Wow! What an amazing environment. The wines were fantastic. Carrie and I did a tasting it was one of those instances where I could easily have purchased a bottle of each of the four that I tasted. I started off with a Chardonnay, Red Blend, Painted Lady, and finished off with The Colonel (see full menu). Fantastic spot where they host parties and have a huge outside area to enjoy your selected wine. After our tasting, we each got a glass to enjoy plus two pizzas. 

I did not record which pizzas we got, although Carrie likely remembers, but they were both very good. We bought a bottle of wine that Javier and I split and Carrie got a watermelon drink which she liked. It was a fun first night and the place is very close (5 minutes) from where Javier lives. Javi said he takes people here any chance he gets and this was our first visit, so he recently discovered this place that is less than five minutes from where he lives. Worth checking out Fortunata Winery if you are in the area. Sitting outside in July with a cool breeze was amazing while enjoying delicious food and wine.

Truck Yard Dallas with our Puppies and Friends
We spent a few days in the Dallas area with Javier visiting various places. He took us to Truck Yard and we decided to take Oliver with us. The Truck Yard is an outside area with various vendors and a lot of beer. We were a little concerned taking Oliver as he can sometimes be aggressive towards other dogs; however, on this adventure, he was a perfect little gentleman. Interacting with other dogs and being rather friendly. One particular dog he went up to three or four times, tail wagging, and generally friendly. It was rather odd to see after seeing Oliver try and take out other dogs his size or larger. It was a nice surprise.

We had a great time at Truck Yard where we ate from the food trucks and drank a lot of great beer. We were able to meet up with friends of Javier. While it was around 95 degrees when we went out to the Truck Yard, it was really not bad at all. We had a wonderful time and good to meet new friends of Javier and some that we had met in the past. It was a fun time!

Following our time in Dallas, we headed to Houston on July 11. We had a great time in Houston spent with our friend Corrie and her children. We ate and drank a number of wonderful spots in Houston. Pluckers Wing Bar, Snooze Eatery which is a breakfast spot we first found in Colorado years ago and continue to seek out, Floyds Cajun Seafood which is another place we always try to visit when Houston, and Taste of Texas where we had dinner one evening.

Gulf Coast Distillers Enjoying Drinks and Company
We had good drinks at all the locations listed previously and I would now like to call out some of the places where we had fantastic drinks. Gulf Coast Distillers in Houston was a fun spot. The presentation of the spirits were good and the taste of the drinks was even better. We spent a few hours at Gulf Coast Distillers and we ate dinner there too. I highly recommend visiting Gulf Coast Distillers if you are in the area as it was well worth the visit the time spent.

Another favorite when in the Houston area is to visit Cyclone Anaya's where we spent a few hours enjoying margaritas. The chips and salsas are delicious and the variety of good strong margaritas makes the afternoon fly by. 

Oliver, TBo, Carrie, and I Enjoying the Pool
As our week concluded in Houston, we spent our final day at Uncle Tommy's house for a pool day. It was a day to remember as we all had fun and the drinks were flowing easily. I was the bartender and had fun making drinks for everyone. Oliver was being good and we were surprised he wanted to get on a raft and float around the water. Of course, we were pushing him around the water, but he was enjoying his time around the pool. We had a great time and it was good to finally be able to enjoy being outside after it rained everyday since we had been in Houston.

We left for Dallas on July 18 where we stopped at another favorite spot which is eatZi's Market & Backery. Picked up some food to take back to Javi's house to wind down and enjoy the evening. Monday would have Carrie and I leaving Dallas to head to Texarkana to see Carrie's uncle. We had a nice visit and met is girlfriend, Audra, and her little dog JoJo. We had a wonderful visit and went out to eat that evening meeting up with a cousin of Carrie. A short visit as Carrie and I left early the following morning to get back to Topeka.

Oliver Very Sleepy on Way Home and After Arriving Home
Oliver slept the whole way home and most of the days following returning home. I think Oliver had just as much fun as us on the trip even though he was taken out of his normal routines. I went back to work on Wednesday and recall when I came home for lunch on Wednesday, Oliver had been sleeping all morning and was a bit grumpy where he growled when I went to pet him as to say he needed more rest.

It was a great trip and look forward to a doing it again in a year. Thanks to the hospitality of Javier, Corrie, Tommy, Robert, and Audra, it made for a wonderful trip.


Sunday, July 11, 2021

Different Kind of July 4 Celebration and Driving Around Kansas Camp Sites

Driving on July 4 Holiday Across Damn
July 4 celebration was a little different for Carrie and I this year than previous years. We decided a few weeks ahead of the holiday that we would drive around Kansas to look at camp sites. This was really more to help our our dog, Oliver, who is afraid of thunder, loud noises, and especially fireworks. We thought it would be a good way for us to check out various camp sites and also get Oliver out of the house and away from our neighborhood where fireworks can go off into the late hours of the night.

We started off visiting Cross Timbers State Park located on Toronto Lake in Woodson County. We drove around looking at various locations and found a few good spots. The first camp site we visited, Manns Cove Camp Site, was not ideal as we could not see the lake from the camp site, but we found other locations that would work. Good views of the lake and tree coverage to keep us cool tent camping. 

As we reviewed the spaces, we thought about making a trip to Cross Timbers State Park in the fall to see the lake and tree coverage. Toronto Lake is in the woods with heavy tree foliage, so we thought a fall visit would be fun to see the area, hike, and camp in cool temperatures. We noticed a few different spots to hike while we were driving around, so that was interesting to see and something to look forward to check out in the future.

Fall River Lake Spillway
The next camp site we checked was located at Fall River Lake and included the Fall River State Park. Traveling to Fall River State Park from Cross Timbers State Park took us deep into Kansas countryside. Cell signal completely stopped working, but luckily, our GPS continued to work and had us going through fields, gravel roads, and single lane dirt roads as we passed by fields and country houses. 

We really liked this camp site and had fun looking around the spillway that was partially open as every lake we looked at during the day was way above their normal lake levels. Some areas were completely covered with water or could not access the area we wanted to check, but we were able to see all of the spots we wanted.

We found Fall River State Park various sites that we would love to check out in the future. The camp sites at this location, as well as the first site, were not nearly as crowded as we thought they would be on a holiday. They were busy, but not overrun with campers. Both sites included many RVs but the primitive sites were not busy at all. It was nice though as we were doing the whole day to get Oliver out of the house so he would not have to hear fireworks that all State camp sites prohibit fireworks, so that was nice we did not have to worry about loud booms while we were in the various camp sites.

Fall River Lake Flooded Area We Visited

We found a nice little trail to follow down to the water and the state had done a lot of work to make the trail accessible by all. A path where a wheel chair could get down to the water although it was still being worked on and washed out from the flooding, it appeared as though they were going to pour cement and make it accessible all the way to the dock. With flooding, the path to the dock was underwater (picture to the left), but we could see how they were making progress and going to have it be a nice set up with wheel chair paths all the way to the dock. 

We will be back to visit the Fall River State Park site in the future. We enjoyed the area, the camp sites, and views from the sites we visited.

Our final site to visit for the day was located at El Dorado Lake. El Dorado State Park is the largest State Park in Kansas. We had about a 40 minute drive from Fall River State Park to El Dorado State Park.  Carrie drove while Oliver and I snoozed. Of the three lakes we reviewed through the day, I was excited to be at El Dorado Lake. I had driven over it for years when going to Wichita to visit my sister over the years and always liked how the highway went over the lake. It was fun seeing the camp sites. Again, we found that on this holiday, RV sites were crowded, but primitive camp sites were mostly open. 

Carrie and I Doing a Picnic at El Dorado State Park
Carrie and I stopped at an open camp site to have a picnic. Like the other two lakes, the area was flooded and so the camp site we found in primitive camping was not reserved or we thought was not an option to reserve. The grill for the site was partially in the water, so it was a perfect spot for us to spend a while enjoying the cool July 4 weather at the lake.

We had cheese, crackers, and grapes. It was perfect! I could have spent a longer time at the lake, but we wanted to try and see my sister in Andover. We had not given them any heads up as we were not sure of our schedule from going from lake-to-lake, so we ended up not being able to connect with them. We headed on home after finishing the site review at El Dorado State Park as we were unable to meet up with Jen and her family.

We had a great time on our July 4 camp site visits. We left the house later than we had expected as we left about 1. We got back to Topeka around 10:30 that evening. It was a wonderful drive back as we could see fireworks being fired from El Dorado, Emporia, and Topeka. 

El Dorado Lake Camp Site Looking Out at Lake

What a wonderful time spent driving around the state of Kansas. We enjoyed our time together as we searched out future camp sites. I think we found some good options for next fall/spring and look forward to being able to visit them in the future. Carrie and I talked about our camping at El Dorado State Park that we would be able to invite Jen and Kent out to our camp site to eat with us. I think it sounds like a fun time and look forward to being able to do so in the near future.

What Kansas camp sites have you visited? Which ones do you like? Any recommendations for us to check out in our future camping adventures?


Sunday, July 04, 2021

Happy 4th of July

 

United States Flag on Our House
July 4 will always bring back memories for me from when I was a kid. I recall becoming excited as the July 4 date approached, bothering my parents for going to get fireworks, and eventually having the fireworks purchased to fire off in our driveway. I remember not only my parents taking me to get fireworks… usually my mom… but I remember my sisters and brother taking me to get fireworks too. 

Preparing for Fireworks Show off the Dock at the Cabin
I recall shooting fireworks at my parents in the driveway. I remember shooting fireworks at friends houses. Some of my favorite memories are firing fireworks off at Lone Star Lake. Off of the dock. I remember one time when we were not he dock doing a fireworks “show” and everyone was up top on the deck. Some how a rocket found its way all the way to the deck and blew up by my sister Dina. It blew up and made a hole in her shirt. To this day, she is not a fan of fireworks.

Other memories of the 4th of July include going to Wichita to celebrate the holiday. Again, fond memories of going to my sisters house in Wichita to do fireworks. Kent and I spent a lot of time doing a fireworks show which included mortar and seemed to last into the midnight hour. Of course we did not go to midnight as that would be too late, but the memory has expanded in my mind. I think this was back in the 90s but I am not sure. The whole family went to Wichita a few summers to celebrate the fourth and still have good memories from those trips.

Another good memory was celebrating the 4 in Houston a few years ago. We bought fireworks and then TBo bought even more fireworks. We spent the evening shooting off fireworks and again it felt as though it was late into the night.

We no longer buy fireworks but we both enjoy a good fireworks show and the holiday certainly brings back nostalgia for times past and good memories. 

Have a happy and safe 4th of July. 


Sunday, June 27, 2021

Cleaning House and Thinking About Future Kansas Camping Locations

Memory of Our First Camping Trip Picture of the Lake

A quiet weekend for Carrie and I cleaning to spend Saturday. More cleaning planned for Sunday. Camping the past few weekends have left us to the point where we need to spend time getting the house back in order. Following our camping trips and knowing that we would be camping again soon, we would leave camping supplies by the kitchen door. 

We spent the day Saturday getting things organized and put away. Not very exciting, but we did spend a little while looking at a Kansas Wildlife and Parks that researched Kansas State Parks. We signed up for the Kansas magazine to get future information about Kansas Wildlife and Parks. I believe Carries’ Mom found the magazine and gave it to us. Carrie and I read through the entire magazine looking at the various State Parks and reviewing those we have already visited (my blog posts Lake Melvern, Lake Crawford, and most recently Milford Lake) and thinking about those we have yet to visit. 

As we reviewed the Kansas Wildlife and Parks, we thought that we had been to some of the largest camp sites in Kansas, but realized we have not even scratched the surface. The largest camp site in Kansas is El Dorado State Park. Totally makes sense as I have always been in amazement when driving to Wichita and going over the El Dorado Lake that I-35 goes over partially. I look forward to our visiting El Dorado State Park at some point in our future camping visits. Plus, we picked out many other sites to visit in our future camping.

For now, our camping adventures are on hold. We were lucky with our last camping adventure (Camping in Hot Temperatures) and hot temperatures, but feel it is best to hold camping until temperatures drop in the fall. That does not mean we are not looking at locations and planning for future camping adventures.

Where is your favorite location to camp in Kansas? Please comment to share your recommendation for where to camp in Kansas. 

For now, stay cool through the summer months and until next week, have fun!


Sunday, June 20, 2021

Camping in Hot Temperatures at Lake Milford Near Junction City, Kansas

Camp Site at Lake Milford State Park
Thursday we spent the morning running errands and checking lists to make sure we had everything for a two night stay at Lake Milford just outside of Junction City, Kansas. Carrie and I actually drove in to check our reservation the week before just to see where we would be and good thing we did as we ended up changing spots. The previous camp site we had we could not see the lake and there was not any shade to protect from what we knew was going to be an extremely hot couple of days camping. So, we changed spots and are happy with the new camp site.

Erin, Greg, Carrie and I on our Camping Weekend
We are going camping with Greg and Erin for the first time. I am beyond excited to spend a few days around the water and Friday we rented a boat although there will be more on that later in this update. Greg, Erin, Carrie, and I got together Monday night to go through our provisions, who was picking up what, and who was taking what in our cars. We already knew we would have to take two cars as Carrie and I fill up our Honda Pilot with no problem just the two of us camping. 

Thursday

Camp Site in the Evening with Lights
We had a wonderful first night. Spent the afternoon/evening around our camp site. We have a very shady spot, so even though it was hot, it was not bad at all. We had to move our chairs around to avoid the sun, but it was not a problem. We cooked dinner late so that we could avoid the heat of the day which worked out well as we did tacos. They were excellent! We did them on the Firedisc along with the tortillas and we all ate well the first night. 

We stayed up late… I am not even sure what time we went to bed, but I know at one point I looked at my watch and it said 1 am. A perfect first night where we ate well, drank, laughed, and told stories.

Friday

Ducks on the Lake Early Friday Morning
The first night in the tent sleeping came with mixed reviews. Erin, Greg, and Carrie all did not sleep well. We had set up the tent to have each couple sleeping against the ends so we were sleeping at either end of the tent leaving the middle section completely open. I do not recall putting my head on the pillow before I woke up the next morning. Erin, Greg, and Carrie all were hot from the start and remained hot through the evening. Through the day on Friday, we discussed how we would adjust the sleeping to see if it made it better.

This day we had a boat rented and would be on the lake from 11:45 to 3:45, so we started the day with a light breakfast. We had to run to get ice for the boat before heading to the marina. The Acorns Resort where we went to get the boat had a nice set up. We rented a pontoon boat which was only about two weeks old the guy told us as we were getting set up on how to use the boat.

I really enjoyed our time on the water. Carrie had the idea the week or two before our camping dates as she wanted to surprise Greg and Erin with getting a boat to use for the day, but I think I was the one most excited about having the boat. Lake Milford is the largest lake in Kansas and although it had been a long time since I had driven a boat, I remembered everything like it was just yesterday.

Relaxing Time on the Water and We Are on a Boat We wanted to find a spot where we could sit, float in the water, and chill, but we realized soon that not many spots on the lake were calm with the winds gusting through the day. There were white caps and no anchor in the boat we rented, so we ended up driving to one end and then floating. It was great! We tied off some life jackets so we could have a line to hold on to as we floated with the boat. Enjoyable day on the water and we are already talking of doing it again at the next site we go to camp.

Following the day on the water, we decided to drive around looking at various camp sites. We saw some sites we would like to book in the future. We also saw the log cabins that are available to rent and we want to do that sometime too. We got back from driving around looking at camp sites and decided to take some drinks down to the water, took our chairs, and wade out into the water. 

Brats and Fried Tators… Yum!
Dinner Friday night everyone was anxious to eat the meal. We were cooking bratwursts and fried potatoes which we did on the Firedisc. Our first time doing bratwursts on the Firedisc as well as the fried potatoes, but well worth the wait.

The evening was much more low key than our first night. Full from dinner, feeling good from drinks, we listened to the Royals game (won the game and snapped a losing streak), and played some games as we relaxed. Erin, Greg, and Carrie were concerned about going to bed and being warm, so Carrie and Erin made changes to our beds to move them to the center of the tent and changing how our bodies were positioned to move them away from the tent ends and into the middle of the tent.

I was in bed by midnight and sound asleep not long after. A fun second night and we packed a lot into our second day of camping. 

Saturday

Sailboat on the Water
Erin and Greg woke up early and started consolidating coolers. I got out of bed about 8 or 8:30. We did not have much planned for the day as it was packing up and heading back home day. We decided not to do breakfast and grab something on the way back to Topeka. 

As we packed, we saw other RVs and campers arriving for the weekend. So far after three camping adventures for Carrie and I, it is still a sad feeling as we begin to pack up and know that are camping is coming to an end. This is likely our last camping trip for the summer and we will resume again in the fall.

Wrapping Up

Our time at Milford State Park was a success and we had a great time. I think we have two more fans of camping in Greg and Erin. It was fun to have them on our camping adventure and to share in our stories. 

Large Spider as We Were Taking Down the Tent We did learn as we were cleaning up on Saturday morning that with our camp site in the woods, we had a lot more spiders than Carrie and I had seen at our previous two camp sites. One spider we saw as we were taking down the tent as on the tarp we put our tent on. Erin pulled back a corner and made a comment about what she saw. The picture to the left is the spider that was hiding out under our tent. Erin threw the package of crackers to give perspective of the spider. I will just say that Erins’ reaction to seeing the spider to what I would have done was much more civilized. The spider lived as no one wanted to mess with it and it was really fast on the ground.

While our camping might be done of the summer, we did talk about going back to Milford State Park as there was a beach that was near our camp that we liked a lot as it felt like we were the beach with waves crashing into the shore. We might do a trip into the lake one weekend to enjoy the water.

The rental of the boat was perfect. I think we all had a great time with the boat, seeing the lake, camping, and the eating. We could all do without the spiders, but I think Carrie and I learned something about where to select for a camp site. This was in heavy tree line, so that appears to have increased the likelihood of spiders. The good news is that we have not seen any ticks, but the search continues. 

We also learned that when we can park the car is to offload and load the car is important. We were able to change camp sites which we are so happy we were able to do. The camp site we wanted was next door to the one we had for this weekend, but it was already taken. 

Until next time, happy camping and I leave you with some more pictures from our weekend…

Carrie and I Selfie

Floating in the Water Enjoying Life

Greg and I Posing for the Camera Enjoying Life

Erin and Greg Posing for the Camera


Sunday, June 13, 2021

Peloton Update with Review of June Half Over

Photo by Ylanite Koppens from Pexels

It has been a few weeks since I posted anything about biking or exercise. I continue to bike about three times a week on the Peloton. I am fast approaching 200 cycling rides since owning the bike back in November 2020. I am currently at 194 rides. Three rides a week is about right for me as I mentioned in previous updates that I had tried doing more and I could feel it in my legs to the point where stairs and walking were difficult. I enjoy the three rides a week approach.

I am still riding Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday during the week. If I have to adjust, I do so and it has been working well. Tuesday and Thursday typically are shorter where I ride for twenty or thirty minutes with Sunday being my long ride days and usually live rides which I enjoy. Sunday rides are usually in the morning at 11 am and go for anywhere from 45 - 65 minutes. Tuesday and Thursday rides are usually scenic routes or recorded sessions from earlier days and following a work day.

My Peloton Stats

I had planned to start running again as the summer months started, but as you can see, I have not started that again. I was only planning to run one day at a week which was going to be Saturday mornings, but so far, that has not happened. I also still want to do a bike bootcamp, but have not done one of those either.

I had plans to start eating healthier June 1, but that did not happen. I was not going to go crazy, but do a month of eating healthy, reducing breads, drinks, etc., but other things seem to grab my attention and cannot focus on doing the process. 

For now, I enjoy riding our bike three times a week and eventually working in a run at least once a week. I figure if I make this a normal routine for me then I can introduce healthy eating and watch the pounds disappear.

What do you do for exercise, healthy eating, and staying focused on your end goal of health?