After I left Sue’s house near Fort Worth, I spent the weekend in a campground at Lake Whitney near Waco. It was so quiet and peaceful. This campground was closed for two months due to the flooding from the abundance of rain earlier this year. The weekend I was at the campground was the first time it was opened in two months, so it was just me and one other camper in the entire campground where I stayed. One night there was a beautiful sunset. While parked at the campground I noticed water dripping on the concrete under the edge of the camper. I thought at first it was from the rooftop air conditioner, but after checking, it seems that the gray water tank from my little kitchen sink had some cracks in it. When I got to Waco and parked at my friends house, they patched it with some type of repair kit with black goop that hopefully sealed the cracks so it won’t leak. In a previous story I wrote about my back step no longer working. So far the step stool is working out okay. In fact, I also use it to wash the front window which is safer for me than when I try to stand on the front bumper to reach the window and the top of the camper over the window.
I have been visiting with my friends in the Homestead Heritage community in Waco, Texas. I have been here many times in the 17 1/2 years since I learned about this community and made many friends here. There are numerous stories on my website that you can read and several photo albums that you can look at the pictures from my previous visits, most of them at the Thanksgiving Fair and in the weeks leading up to the Fair when everyone is getting preparing the many types of foods that are served and the numerous hands on projects and demonstrations. Here is the story I wrote from my visit in November 2014.
Labor Day is the Sorghum Festival. In addition to other activities visitors can watch the entire process of making sweet sorghum syrup–from pressing the raw cane using a horse-powered mill to cooking the juice into a rich, golden brown syrup, and they can enjoy some samples of sorghum syrup on freshly-baked cornbread made from stoneground cornmeal! I remember the first time I got to chew on a piece of fresh sorghum, it was really sweet and an unusual taste, sort of like sugar cane. Fresh sorghum syrup is delicious, it’s not quite a molasses taste, but it’s similar. I have watched the sorghum pressed and boiled several times, it’s fascinating to watch the syrup change from the liquid that is pressed to the finished product. It’s all done by hand with many people helping the syrup flow from the beginning of the boiling tray until it’s the finished syrup being poured into jars.
Since arriving here on August 3rd, I have spent two days helping at the Cheese Shop, and also having meals with various close friends, and also preparing fresh pears from the pear trees so that the fruit can be dried in a food dehydrator. I also picked hot peppers and helped to get them ready to be dried so they can be ground into pepper for cooking. As always, I make time to rest and take care of myself, and read. As I walk around the village I see many Roadrunner birds. They are really entertaining to watch. They run a little, then stop and look around and while they do their tail moves up and down, then on they go and repeat the process again and again.
A few weeks ago a Basket Shop was opened, I went in and met Martha who was weaving some baskets. As I walked through the shop, I saw baskets that were finished and ready for sale, and also that were in the process of being woven by people taking the basket weaving class. I saw a basket that contained walnut slices, they were also incorporated into some of the hand woven baskets. I can’t imagine how a walnut gets sliced into nice looking slices. I bet only a few slices can be cut from a walnut.
This time of year is when one of my favorite plants is in bloom, it’s the Pride of Barbados. The flowers are bright orange and yellow and almost every bloom is different as far as the variation of these two colors. The butterflies love these bright colored flowers and many other types of flowers in the flower bed. Butterflies are abundant, as are fire ants. I prefer the butterflies and flowers. I have had many experiences with fire ants, and I prefer to not have any more, but I know that is not likely.
Here are some of the pictures I took this year. Since I have taken hundreds of pictures over the past few years during my visits here, I didn’t want to post another album since it will be mostly the same pictures. The Hydroponics Greenhouse was new last November, so I thought I would include some new pictures here the gardens have been used for several months. It’s about 100 degrees here and it’s between planting season, so not many vegetables are being grown at this time. It even reached 108 degrees a few days this week. It’s way too hot!!! I can’t even imagine the intensity of the heat that Caleb works with in the blacksmith shop.
One night I had dinner at a friends house where I got to enjoy time with their three children who are precious and adorable. I have watched them grow over the years and we stay in touch throughout the year. I have pictures at home hanging on my mirror that they colored for me. I love the new house they are in that I got to see the framing for when I was here the end of last year. One of the walls in the girl’s room was painted with a beautiful mural. While at the house I looked outside and there were two donkeys in the driveway, they evidently live next door and often come to visit.
There are so many beautiful handmade quilts for sale here made by members of the community. I love looking at the designs and the very even and straight hand stitching. I have made several quilts myself and I know how much time it takes to make them and hand stitch them. Getting all of the stitches to be the same size is very time consuming, and my stitches are not quite as small as the stitches on these quilts. In addition to selling quilts, the Gift Barn sells other locally made items such as jellies, pasta, candles, soaps, Gristmill products, and furniture.
In case you have not seen how pomegranates grow, here are a few photos of them growing on trees. First there is a small pinkish red flower, then the fruit begins to appear. There are a few trees here that have the beginnings of the fruit on them now, they usually are ready to be picked in October and November. The Century plant is a cactus like plant that is very large. Once a year it puts up a very tall, about 6 foot or higher stalk that sort of looks like an asparagus tip. This is not the time of year for the spike, but the plant is still pretty amazing to look at. It looks like it would have succulent leaves, but they are very hard and dry. You can’t tell from looking at this picture, but some of these plants are about three feet tall and about that in diameter.
Texas like other states has some beautiful sunsets. Overlooking the lower pasture land here, where there is an overlook facing west, the sunset is majestic. Here are pictures I took all in one evening. It was really interesting watching clouds move across the sun as it was setting.
The weather here in Texas has been quite hot. We had several days of over 100 degrees temperature. In fact, it was 107 and 108 for a few days. Then it cooled off to about 98 degrees. There was a BIG surprise on Thursday morning when the temperature in the morning was 70 degrees. Then in the afternoon we had heavy rainstorms, the rain was very much needed. There was heavy rains a few months ago that caused serious flooding, and now I heard that a record was set for the most days without rain in quite a while. So, the rain on Thursday was very much needed. Kim and I went to town to go grocery shopping and we got soaked to the skin from being in the rain.
I will be leaving Waco on Wednesday or Thursday and heading west and then northwest, then west again towards Albuquerque. I called a Corps of Engineer Park a few hours west of Waco to see about camping there and I was told they are still closed from the flooding a few months ago. An hour or so west is another Corps park that is open so I plan on stopping there before heading west/northwest towards Abilene, Lubbock, Amarillo, then on to Albuquerque. I will update my website as I can since I will have intermittent Internet service and probably not much to write about for a while, other than maybe posting some photos of campgrounds. I am taking some back roads and going through small towns that I have not been through before so maybe I will find interesting places along my route. If so, I will write about them and post pictures when I can. Don’t be concerned if you don’t see any new posts from me for several weeks. I will try to at least keep my Travel Map updated.