Monday, April 25, 2005

Road Trip 2005 - Day 6

Wow, it is COLD! The temperature dropped to the low to mid 50's and we all packed for 60's at the coldest. We managed to suffer thru it, though, an go see all the war memorials, plus Lincoln. We started off with a bang at the WWII Memorial, because we didn't know how much PawPaw would be able to handle. Big L pushed him all day in his wheelchair, and PawPaw gladly let Big J snuggle up there in his lap to keep them both warm! I'm going to post Big L's version of it today, and let him be the guest blogger:

first day in to dc. we took the metro bus a short trip out of our park
to the greenbelt subway station. the subway was very fast and really
cool. Houston needs some sort of mass transit.

by the way- low last night in the lower forties. low tonight upper 30s.
we had to run the rv heater last night and tonight. again, to my
amazement flawless operation.

first stop was the ww II memorial. "We came not to conquer but for
freedom and to end tyranny" . downright awesome. you just need to come
see it. its an incredible tribute with granite, water pools and
fountains. has great quotes from famous ww II era leaders engraved in
various places. was really cool to see paw paw tear up along with
granny. granny was more of an out right cry. we took a miillion
pictures you can check out for yourself. paw paw was wearing his WWII
veteran cap. a . a number of people young and old would just come up
and say thank you. a young marine came by and shook paw paws hand and
said "its men like you that made me stay in". while walking down the
sidewalk beside the lincoln memorial (i was pushing paw paw in the
wheel chair) i see a young late high school or early college age girl
with a small group of other girls swerve toward us and say "thank you
for your service, sir". also, a grandmother came up to paw paw and said
"my grandson wants to get your autograph". the boy about 10 came up and
paw paw signed a wwII memorial postcard: to my buddy michael, HS
Shuman, fireman 1st class, US Navy. Several other vets were there and
paw paw traded pacific stories about okinawa. i listened to an old
marine major who survived a bad fight in anzo italy. he said we lost
more guys in that anzo battle than we did storming normandy.

the other highlight was the korean war memorial. the statues of the
soldiers walking in battle conditions is awesome. it has a huge black
granite wall with images of soldiers etched in its side. also engraved
in the wall is a large "freedom is not free". we took several pictures
of me and the kids and some with just the kids in front of the soldier
statues. we told them both about their grandady fighting in the war.
they tried to soak it in and i hope something sticks so they can
remember how fortunate they are and how both of their grandads served
america's call of freedom.

The lincoln memorial, vietnam memorial, and women of the vietnam
warmemorial were also incredible. TB's bugging me about hogging her
computer so that'll have to wrap for today. L

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Road Trip 2005 - Days 4 & 5

These 2 days are getting lumped together because they were relatively uneventful.....and I'm tired.

Day 4 - We got up early so as to depart from Chattanooga at 8am, which we did. The only problem was that PawPaw wanted to stop at a Lowe's to get some stuff for the RV. We got directions from the campground and headed out. An hour and a half later, we pulled out of the Lowe's parking lot.....without having found what we came for, despite 3 trips in for returns/exchanges. Now we're running behind on a very long day of driving. At one point, we look around for Big J and discover him sitting on the night table in the back, looking out the window, and waving to all the truckers....they loved him!

Luckily, Big L makes great time and we get to our beautiful campground in Staunton Virginia in time to pull in a get set up before dark. (We also discover that they only offer dial up internet service, which Big L and I decided wasn't worth the trouble.) This was the plan because the kids are getting what we've now identified as the fateful disease "RV-itis". We hoped to get to our new site in plenty of time to run and play at the playground, fish the lake with Daddy and explore. Too bad it poured down rain from the moment we arrived until after we were asleep!

Day 4 - Well this was the easiest day of travel so far....only 3 hours! Shortly before making the necessary exits to find our campground, I call ahead to assure our reservations, etc. I am informed that their wireless high-speed internet connection is not complete and won't be for another 2 weeks. I cancel our reservations! I exhaust all the campground brochures we have on hand to no avail, so it is time to call in the internet troops. Big L and I begin calling internet-savvy friends who can help us find a new campground in our area. KoOk comes through and finds us a gem which we quickly relocate to and settle in. It is fabulous!

1:00pm - The ankle-biters and I head out for "my event" of the trip. I have been a part of an email group since the days of onelist (remember that??) that revolved around women who were pregnant and due in March of 2000. The March Moms is what we call our group. These ladies and I have bonded and formed a friendship that is now approaching 6 years! Today I got to have lunch with (if you can call Mickey D's lunch!) and meet "in real life" 3 of those wonderful ladies. It was great! Our kids played on the playground and we got to see each other and actually here each other's voice instead of the usual.....reading daily emails to/from one another. Of course our time went by too fast, but it was super fun.

3:30pm - I return to the campsite to find clean towels (compliments of Granny), an outstretched and secure awning (compliments of PawPaw and Big L) and 3 tired campers! We decide to take an evening drive and go to dinner. This, I now realize, is going to be the sticking point of the trip. Up until now, we've eaten aboard our mother-ship almost exclusively. We have planned, however, to start eating out the next 3 days because we plan to be away from motorhome during meals. Let me just say it this way....PawPaw don't like "fancy" food. And by fancy, I mean anything seasoned with something other than salt & pepper. Also, anything that doesn't include a very large portion of beef. We chose Italian because Big L knows me well and he knew I was long overdue for a pasta fix. Not to mention the T-Bug spawn love their "noodles & cheese". PawPaw couldn't even read the menu so he didn't try. He split a pizza with Big L and was fine. Big L and I love to eat at restaurants, try new foods, and especially sample the local specialties when we travel. PawPaw and Granny like easily identifiable, country-style food only. I'll keep you posted on how it unfolds.

Right now, Big L and I are scheduling our activities for tomorrow a bit differently because it looks like PawPaw is going to wear out before our time here is up. He's already rubbed a big blister on his foot and we haven't even gotten started. Thank goodness we brought the wheelchair! Tune in tomorrow for news of our first day of sightseeing......have you guessed where we are yet??

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Road Trip 2005 - Day 3

Wow, is it only Day 3?

7:30am - Rise & shine for T-bug....I'm off to the office to buy our tickets for the big 3 - Lookout Mountain Incline Railway, Rock City & Ruby Falls.

7:35am - Granny notices a water leak under the sink....all of our towels are wet. Good thing I packed bins of extra towels in the basement! PawPaw is sure he fixed it by tightening the connections. "Must've come loose from all that bouncin' around on the road yesterday". Hmmmm.

10:00am - We're finally driving off on our day's adventure. I must say, I highly recommend all of these attractions. They don't have the man-made feel of amusement parks, etc., they are highly focused on nature, and not stuff you see everyday! Having said that, Ruby Falls did it's best to make the tour as hoaky as possible, complete with pumped in music, timed lighting, etc. (although it turned out to be my favorite site!) Not to mention, the tour guide went so fast if you stopped to take a picture (I maxed out my storage card today) you got left in the dust. Big J kept saying "the pack is leaving us!". When we did get to the waterfall at the end of the caverns, however, it was amazing. 145 drop into this 5 foot deep pool. Big J's reaction....."When can we come back & fish in there, Daddy?"

lunch - We take a break and drive into town, not knowing what we'll find. Luckily the road we're on leads us right to Downtown Chattanooga, where we stop at Sticky Fingers. Being the proud Texan I am, I immediately informed our waiter that since I was from Texas (home of superior barbeque) their ribs would have to be mighty impressive. Well, they were!! I had the sampler rib platter which included ribs in your choice of 4 preparations (they offer 6). I chose Memphis Wet (BBQ sauce), Carolina Sweet (honey BBQ), Whiskey and Dry. I love them all but the dry. I have to say the Memphis Wet was my favorite and they were some of the best ribs I've ever had. If you're in Tennessee, you've gotta check them out! We were all fat & happy so we returned to Lookout Mountain for the rest of the day.

We finished up the day at Point Park, home of the Battle Above the Clouds from the Civil War, when the Union soldiers defeated the Confederates and took over their stronghold on the mountain. It was quite an impressive battle ground park, and we all enjoyed it. Big J just liked the cannons. After all the battle talk, he informed us that he wanted to go "do a battle...right now!" Do they have a Jr. membership in the NRA I wonder? Anyway, PawPaw wanted to sit and look out over the Tennessee River, so we left him there while we roamed around. No big surprise, when we returned he had made a new friend and was talking his ears off. I'm glad he enjoyed the battleground because both Rock City and Ruby Falls were not wheelchair accessible and he just couldn't handle the walking required. He napped in the minivan, of course.

We returned to the RV to find the water leak had continued all day. Big L and PawPaw determined that the pressure from the campground hose was causing the leak, so we unhooked and now we're fine. We just have to keep the motorhome's tank full so we have water. Can somebody say Marriott??

Tomorrow morning, bright and early, we hit the road again. Hopefully the next site will have wifi as good as this one.....and I'll update you again then. I'm going to add to these posts with some pictures, but it's already midnight and we're getting up at the crack of dawn so I've gotta hit the hay.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Road Trip 2005 Live-Blog Event - Day Two

8:00am - The troops are finally rousing. Thankfully (and surprisingly!) we all slept fairly well in our mobile accomodations. We had noticed a Cracker Barrell last night and decided to go out for breakfast this morning. In hind sight, we probably shouldn't go out for breakfast on the same day we let the kiddos sleep in.

10:20am - We are finally leaving Slidell, LA and heading onward.

11:22am - We cross into Mississippi. Take a short stop for a photo op, and we're on down the road, and making great time. The scenery is taking a turn for the better. Beautiful red clover lined the highway. Also, they apparently planted Magnolia trees all along the interstate. Although they weren't blooming, they were very pretty also.

1:30pm (give or take) - We cross into Alabama. Short break at the Welcome Center, a little lunch, and we're on the road again. The scenery in Alabama is truly beautful. Rolling hills, lots of shades of green trees, and more red clover. The further north we go, the more beautiful it gets. This is by far our favorite state so far!

Some time after dark - We cross into Georgia, then Tennesse, then Georgia again. For some reason, when Big L tries to turns on the headlights, the fuse for the cruise control goes out?! Granny & PawPaw are getting very edgy and generally flipped out. I guess it's past their bedtime! I ride shotgun and direct Big L into our campsite for the night. Big improvement!! This one has excellent wi-fi connection right in the comforts of our motor home, we're close to the bath house and playground, and it's very pretty here. Finally!! We've also altered our route home so as to avoid I-10 through southern Louisiana. Let's just say their highway maintenance leaves a LOT to be desired and once was enough!

I'm so impressed with how well the kiddos, especially The Princess, are doing after 2 whole days in the motor home. They were sure hoping to get out and run on the playground tonight, but it was too dark, and after the time change it was 10pm! Tomorrow, however, is a kid-fest. The RV is staying put and we're off to see some sights. Woohoo, that means I'll at least have wi-fi tomorrow night!

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Road Trip 2005 Live-Blog Event - Day One

In case you're just now joining this adventure, be sure and check out The Cast of Characters

And we're off!! Well, not exactly yet, but today that is. Right now I'm the only person awake in my household. Why? Too excited to sleep, of course! I know I've passed this trait on to The Princess because last night, about 45 minutes after she had gone to bed, I went upstairs to pack some last-minute item. I heard rustling, looked around, and there she was - propped up on one elbow and grinning from ear to ear. "I can't sleep, Mommy! I'm too excited!" I love that!

Last night Big L was choosing the CD's he wants to bring along, as he's been put in charge of the music selections up front in the "cockpit". He had a hard time narrowing down his choices........he had to pick only his favorites from his 30-some odd Willie Nelson CD's

Now I do need to fill you in on how this live-blog event is going to work. I will only be able to post in the evenings when we "dock" at a wi-fi enabled campsite. I will not be revealing the ultimate destination of this trip.....that's for you to figure out by tracking our progress! I will, however, reveal each stop along the way once we've moved on. (and no cheating by those who know us "in real life".....KoOk)

OK, time to go wake up the family and get this show on the road!!

9:50am – We’re on the road!

10:05amBig L notices some slack in the minivan on the trailer that we are towing. As we pull over to adjust the straps, I notice the distinct aroma of brake smoke. “Hmmm, PawPaw, that smells like when you leave the emergency brake on”. PawPaw responds “Naw, that’s just ‘cause I got on the brakes a little to hard when we stopped.” Big L returns from adjusting the minivan straps and announces that the emergency brake was engaged on the van and smoke is pouring out from under the hood. Nice! PawPaw, of course, still denies that what we smelled/saw was anything other than him “getting’ on the brakes a little too hard”. Big L obviously didn’t buy it because I saw him double checking the location of the fire extinguisher! As it turns out, those loose straps saved our rears. PawPaw has now been gently instructed by Big L on the differences between front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive when it comes to emergency brakes. Oh, well. All is well and we pull out again……to the sound of the metal steps (that were supposed to be up) scraping the curb.

11:45am – the ankle biters are snuggled in Granny’s bed watching A Bug’s Life on the portable DVD player. We have a laptop in the front with GPS monitoring keeping up with our elevation, location, and distance to riding shotgun and talking about tI am on the couch writing this up for later posting to the blog. Technology rules.

6:05pm - We pull in to the campsite at Slidell, LA and realize it wasn't quite all they had advertised. First of all, their "playground" consisted of one old metal slide, one swing, and an old set of monkey bars. Secondly, and far more disappointing, their "internet connection" consisted of a phone jack in the office, which closed at 6:30pm. Nice. So far, we're just passing throught and we're ready to move on out of Louisiana. The kiddos are exhausted so we decide to let them sleep in as long as they will tomorrow morning.....

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Happy Tax Day!!!!

WOOHOO!! I'm all done with this tax on!

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Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Countdown to Road Trip 2005 - 7 Days Out

To give you more of a mental picture of exactly what type of vehicle will be housing the Cast of Characters on this trip, here's a summary:

Our RV does NOT resemble this:

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Our RV DOES resemble this:

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Day of Silence at Local Schools

Have you heard or read about the planned Day of Silence for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender students at school? You would think this would be an activity/event found on college campuses, but you'd be wrong. Participating schools include a multitude of public high schools, junior highs and even elementary schools.

The Day of Silence was organized by pro-homosexual activists seeking to affirm Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender youths who are "oppressed by silence every day"

To see if your local schools are participating, you can check here. I was quite surprised to find my local high school on the list!

A big hat tip to my friend Valerie for this story!

Monday, April 11, 2005

It's the Official One-Week Countdown....

Until Texasbug's Road Trip 2005 Live-Blog Event! That's right, we're off on a cross-country RV trip beginning Tuesday, April 19th and I will be blogging about our journey each day....thanks to the wonderful invention of wi-fi at the campsites!

The cast of characters are set for a hilarious adventure! Here's the lineup:

PawPaw - 78 year old WWII Vet who never meets a stranger and tries to order chicken-fried steak no matter where he is (T-Bug's Dad).
Granny - 76 year old who has the energy level and spunk of someone 15 years younger (T-Bug's Mom).
Texasbug & Big L - two 30-something CPA's fresh off of tax season and looking for a change of scenery and some relaxation.
The Princess - 5 year old spawn of T-Bug & Big L who is currently packing color-coordinated flip-flops for each outfit!
Big J - 3 year old spawn of T-Bug & Big L who has already given PawPaw a heart attack by turning on the generator by himself in the RV!

If that's not enough to supply a comedian for years to come, I don't know what is. Add that to the fact that we will be travelling for 2 straight weeks in an RV that is not exactly a spring chicken and you start to get the idea. Big L and I are already referring to ourselves as the "white-trash hillbilly's from Texas", which is, I'm sure, what everyone who sees us coming is going to think!

Are you ready?? It's only ONE WEEK until the Road Trip 2005 Live-Blog Event!!

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Texans Against Broadband?

Believe it or not, our "beloved" state legistlators are trying to enact legislation that would ban municipal wireless broadband networks. Why? To protect the big telecom companies who want to charge you for their service, of course! Hat tip to Above the Crowd for his excellent article on the subject (via Hill Country Views).

In case you're new to this topic, there's an awesome question and answer with Jim Baller at For a brief description of what's at stake, I copied this excerpt:

Specifically, I learned that, at the turn of the last century, when electricity was the great new technology of the age, the private sector focused first on electrifying the major population centers and literally left most of America in the dark. Recognizing that electrification was critical to their economic development and survival, thousands of communities that were not large enough or profitable enough to attract private power companies created their own electric utilities. Municipal electric utilities also emerged in several large cities, in which residents believed that competition was necessary to lower prices, raise the quality of service, or both. Most of these communities found that they could provide for their own needs better and at far lower cost than the private sector could or was willing to do. Eventually, hundreds of these communities sold their systems to private power companies, having fulfilled their purpose of avoiding being left behind in obtaining the benefits of electrification. Most communities, however, retained their systems. Today, approximately 2000 public power systems continue to exist and thrive, providing their communities significantly better service at substantially lower prices than investor-owned utilities provide.

Now, the history of the electric power industry is repeating itself in the communications area. Indeed, for many of the communities that were left behind by the private electric companies, its "deja vu all over again." This time, however, there's an important difference -- communities with their own electric utilities are now in an excellent position to provide for their own current and future communications needs. Because municipal electric utilities, government facilities and schools are significant users of advanced telecommunications services, these communities have built-in "anchor tenants" that can ensure a sizable revenue stream and lower project risks. They have decades of experience in providing high technology products; dealing with residential, industrial and commercial customers of all kinds; and furnishing technical support and customer service. They have access to essential rights of way, poles, ducts and conduits. They also have a century old ethic of universal service.

In Honor of the Upcoming Tax Day....

Here's what I'd LIKE to be sending to the IRS:

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Yes, even though I currently make my living helping people pay the

least amount of tax possible....I'd gladly change careers if the Code

were repealed.  10 days and counting......

Friday, April 01, 2005

Words to Live By

Pope John Paul II Quotes

An excuse is worse and more terrible than a lie, for an excuse is a lie guarded.

As the family goes, so goes the nation and so goes the whole world in which we live.

Do not abandon yourselves to despair. We are the Easter people and hallelujah is our song.

From now on it is only through a conscious choice and through a deliberate policy that humanity can survive.

Have no fear of moving into the unknown. Simply step out fearlessly knowing that I am with you, therefore no harm can befall you; all is very, very well. Do this in complete faith and confidence.

Humanity should question itself, once more, about the absurd and always unfair phenomenon of war, on whose stage of death and pain only remain standing the negotiating table that could and should have prevented it.

I have a sweet tooth for song and music. This is my Polish sin.

I hope to have communion with the people, that is the most important thing.

I kiss the soil as if I placed a kiss on the hands of a mother, for the homeland is our earthly mother. I consider it my duty to be with my compatriots in this sublime and difficult moment.

Marriage is an act of will that signifies and involves a mutual gift, which unites the spouses and binds them to their eventual souls, with whom they make up a sole family - a domestic church.

Modern Society will find no solution to the ecological problem unless it takes a serious look at its lifestyles.

Once again, through myself, the Church, in the words of the well-known declaration Nostra Aetate, "deplores the hatred, persecutions and displays of anti-Semitism directed against the Jews at any time and by anyone." I repeat, "By anyone."

Pervading nationalism imposes its dominion on man today in many different forms and with an aggressiveness that spares no one. The challenge that is already with us is the temptation to accept as true freedom what in reality is only a new form of slavery.

Radical changes in world politics leave America with a heightened responsibility to be, for the world, an example of a genuinely free, democratic, just and humane society.

Science can purify religion from error and superstition. Religion can purify science from idolatry and false absolutes.

Social justice cannot be attained by violence. Violence kills what it intends to create.

The cemetery of the victims of human cruelty in our century is extended to include yet another vast cemetery, that of the unborn.

The fear of making permanent commitments can change the mutual love of husband and wife into two loves of self-two loves existing side by side, until they end in separation.

The great danger for family life, in the midst of any society whose idols are pleasure, comfort and independence, lies in the fact that people close their hearts and become selfish.

The historical experience of socialist countries has sadly demonstrated that collectivism does not do away with alienation but rather increases it, adding to it a lack of basic necessities and economic inefficiency.

The question confronting the Church today is not any longer whether the man in the street can grasp a religious message, but how to employ the communications media so as to let him have the full impact of the Gospel message.

The vow of celibacy is a matter of keeping one's word to Christ and the Church. a duty and a proof of the priest's inner maturity; it is the expression of his personal dignity.
Pope John Paul II

This people draws its origin from Abraham, our father in faith The very people that received from God the commandment "Thou shalt not kill" itself experienced in a special measure what is meant by killing. It is not permissible for anyone to pass by this inscription with indifference.

To maintain a joyful family requires much from both the parents and the children. Each member of the family has to become, in a special way, the servant of the others.

Today, for the first time in history, a Bishop of Rome sets foot on English soil. This fair land, once a distant outpost of the pagan world, has become, through the preaching of the Gospel, a beloved and gifted portion of Christ's vineyard.

What we talked about will have to remain a secret between him and me. I spoke to him as a brother whom I have pardoned and who has my complete trust.

When freedom does not have a purpose, when it does not wish to know anything about the rule of law engraved in the hearts of men and women, when it does not listen to the voice of conscience, it turns against humanity and society.

When you wonder about the mystery of yourself, look to Christ, who gives you the meaning of life. When you wonder what it means to be a mature person, look to Christ, who is the fulfillness of humanity. And when you wonder about your role in the future of the world look to Christ.

Work bears a particular mark of man and of humanity, the mark of a person operating within a community of persons.

You are our dearly beloved brothers, and in a certain way, it could be said that you are our elder brothers.

You are priests, not social or political leaders. Let us not be under the illusion that we are serving the Gospel through an exaggerated interest in the wide field of temporal problems.

You will reciprocally promise love, loyalty and matrimonial honesty. We only want for you this day that these words constitute the principle of your entire life and that with the help of divine grace you will observe these solemn vows that today, before God, you formulate.

Young people are threatened... by the evil use of advertising techniques that stimulate the natural inclination to avoid hard work by promising the immediate satisfaction of every desire.

Texas Property Tax Corruption

If you need a refresher on what' going on, read this article at the Galveston County Daily News. Then get ready to take action!

As the article says:

Edd Hendee, a radio talk show host and executive director of Citizens Lowering Our Unfair Taxes, released figures indicating that the property values of Friendswood Mayor Kimball Brizendine, City Manager Ron Cox, council members such as Mel Measels and Laura Ewing and State Rep. Larry Taylor increased at less than the city’s average rate.

Hendee said records obtained through County Tax Assessor-Collector Cheryl Johnson’s office show that while the average values for homeowners in Friendswood had increased almost 32 percent since 2000, the public officials he targeted saw either no increases or, in the case of Brizendine, increases of as little as 6 percent.

So what to do? You can email the Texas Attorney General at and request an investigation into this matter. Let's do it!