Thursday, May 31, 2012

RV: One Bad Trip. Charging Batteries. Wind Turbine. Solar System. Solar Lights. Water Bladder. Battery Water Pump. Wash Veggies. Big Ben. Cold War Ends. Eyes Dilated.

For “tRaVersing, or RV Day"”:

More Tips for Boondocking  (without hook-ups)

Does a bad boondocking trip kill the concept for new RVers?

boondocking_colorado“In last week’s post,  A boondocker’s bag of tricks, among the many responses was one that got me thinking about how RVers view boondocking–especially those that don’t.

Many first time boondockers, such as Bobbie, also don’t realize what changes or additions to their rig would make their boondocking trips more pleasurable, no matter what one’s pleasures might be.  Take heat for instance. Bobbie mentions using two 1-pound canisters of propane per day. Does she realize that her forced air furnace uses a lot more? Dedicated boondockers have learned to install a catalytic heater that requires no electrical power that drains the batteries (like a forced air furnace) and that they can plumb into their main propane system, rather than use expensive 1-pound bottles.

And how about those long hot showers. That could be remedied by carrying extra Jerry jugs of water or a water bladder, as well as by practicing water conservation (such as Navy showers). An abundance of electricity would be possible by installing solar panels, and wifi with a satellite internet system.

None of the disappointments, or grievances, with her boondocking trip were insurmountable from a technical standpoint. Not that boondocking requires all those goodies, it just makes it more comfortable and therefore enjoyable. Most boondockers do not boondock just to save campground fees, though that is an important perk, but rather to camp out in nature, no crowded campgrounds, peace and quiet, solitude, more freedom to camp where you choose–not just where someone built a campground or RV resort–and all the other wonderful pleasures that go with “true” boondocking.

What if Bobbie’s first boondocking experience, rather than turning into a complete turnoff, would have become a window to a whole new world of RVing, another enjoyable way to use her rig with a freedom not possible when requiring hookups to camp. I wonder if Bobbie, and all the other RVers that had a bummer experience on their first boondocking trips, had had a better experience, maybe they would have found the enjoyment that we veteran, dedicated boondockers do.”

Complete article at:


Boondocking tips with Bob Difley

"Charging your batteries with your generator is an annoying process -- especially to your neighbors -- that takes hours of continuous running. And charging them by having your engine idling, though the military consistently does it, will use a lot of fuel and wear out your engine -- and you probably don't have a pentagon sized budget to simply replace things when they wear out. If you plan on doing a lot of boondocking, invest in solar panels or a wind generator -- and install an extra battery too."


I have mentioned this before, but felt it needed to be under boondocking, too.

Generate electricity with a wind turbine

“The Rover Series Wind Turbine Kits are rated for 300 Watts, perfect for mobile power applications.
Compare the Rover to similar offerings, including the Air-X or Sunforce wind turbines. Don't believe outrageous power rating claims.
Rover is great for charging battery banks. We designed the Rover to be compact and easy to deploy. Consider it for both traditional applications as well as use on-the-go with your RV!
Rover Wind Turbine is easy to maintain and built for durability. It's perfect for supplementing your power needs, charging batteries if you're a casual camper that settles in spots for a few days at a time.
Ideal for conserving on gasoline consumption in more remote locations to power lights and appliances! This is a 100% complete wind turbine kit! Mounts directly to 1.5 inch schedule 40 or schedule 80 pipe. Buy with confidence! Comes with our 2-year warranty on parts and labor.
Technical Details

  • Compare it to the Air-X or Sunforce!
  • 300 Watts of REAL power at REALISTIC wind speeds
  • 100% steel construction, including mounting frame, tail, and fasteners!
  • Oversized self-lubricating yaw bushing for effortless tracking in the wind!
  • Mounts directly to 1.5 inch schedule 40 or schedule 80 pipe!

I found it at Amazon for $499."     More at:


Do you really want a Harbor Freight Solar system?“You've probably seen their ad: 45 watt solar power system, includes panels, wiring, mounts, and regulator, hurry in for less than $200. Seems like quite a deal, especially if you're trying to break into solar on the cheap. And it may be a "deal," depending on your needs. But let's penetrate a bit below the surface and see if this--or an alternative--will work for you.

First a word about 45 watts of solar output.

On a clear summer day, this output translates to about 45 amp-hours of usable power. Knowing how much power you use is the key to knowing if such a system is "big enough." Here's an example: An RVing couple who boondocks on the desert in winter says they use the following electrical "stuff":
Incandescent bulbs, 2, 3 hours a day, a total of 12 amp-hours
Fluorescent lamp, 1, 5 hours a day, a total of 5 amp-hours
A 9" color tv, 2 hours a day, a total of 6 amp-hours
A small furnace, 1 hour a day, a total of 8 amp-hours
And miscellaneous items like a water pump, a total of 2 amp-hours.

Sum it all up, their electrical power "budget" works out to 33 amp-hours per day. The Harbor Freight system would be "big enough" provided each day is clear and they point the panels to the south.
But what about your use? With the ubiquitous laptop computer, associated printer, chargers for cell phones, and all the other useful technology, power consumption is often much higher than our conservative example couple. If you need to go "bigger" than you'll need to add solar panels. But here's the hang: The solar controller included in the Harbor Freight system is already close to "maxed out," meaning, hang more panels on the system and you'll soon blow a fuse.
A quick "shopping trip" on eBay leads to some interesting finds. An outfit regularly retails 145 watt solar panels, and sells them for $287 (free shipping). Another seller offering 20 amp solar controllers (room for expansion here) for $64. Throw in another $40 to purchase a mounting system, add a few dollars for wiring, and you can have a system with three times the power for about twice the price. And the system is "expandable," in that if you need more power, the controller is big enough to allow considerable expansion in the number of solar panels.

Another thing to consider about the HF system: The footprint. The 45-watt system is based on three solar panels of 15-watts each. Each panel is 12" x 36" meaning you'll need 9 square feet of roof area to develop 45 watts. Compare this to the 26" x 58" single panel--a single more square foot for three times the power.
If money is tight, if you're really a low power user, the Harbor Freight System may be just the thing you need. But if you'll be needing more power, shop around.”    From:


Solar Lights:

"I have a friend who used her solar lights inside at night when her current was off during the hurricane.  She stuck them in a jar or bottle and said they gave off plenty of 'free light'.  She put one in each room and would put them back outside in the daytime and bring them in at night as long as the current was off.  They are safe to use and cheaper than batteries.  Bring in a solar light one night and test it.
Due to a thunderstorm, we lost power for about 5 hours.  We were scrambling around in the darkness, looking for matches, candles, flashlights, etc.  We looked outside, and noticed our solar lights shining brightly all around our patio, stairs, dock, etc.  They were beautiful.  My wife walked outside, and brought several of the solar lights inside.
We stuck the solar light pipes into plastic drink bottles containers and they made the nicest, brightest, safest, lighting you could ever imagine.
We put one in the bathroom, the kitchen, the living room, etc.  There was plenty of light.  There are all types of solar lights available.  We bought ours at Harbor Freight.  We put them all around our yard.  They look nice and they do not attract flying bugs like the outdoor lights around our doorway.
The lights we have fit into the small (20 oz) water bottles and they also fit into most of the larger liter bottles.  If you need a weight in the plastic bottle to keep them from tipping over, you can put a few of the pretty colorful "flat marbles" that they put in aquariums, and vases.  (you can also use sand, aquarium gravel, etc., whatever you have available).
The lights we have were perfect inside our home.  They burn all night long if you need them.
The next day, you just take your solar lights back outside and they will instantly recharge and be ready for you to use again any time you need them.
Perfect for power outages, hurricanes, etc."


New Wrinkle On Water Bladders

“Toting water back to camp in a barrel has the drawback of pumping the liquid refresher into the RV tank. Water bladders lay on the top of your toad vehicle roof, and expand to hold the precious resource. Back at camp, gravity does the job of transferring the water from the bladder to the tank. Quick and easy. However, the price for water bladders is pretty steep. One RVer in Quartzsite went to Walmart and purchased an air bed, suitably sized to match his toad car roof. He put a hose shutoff valve fitted to an appropriate sized plastic tube to mate up with the "air" inlet on the mattress. The man swears that by first using bleach and water rinse, then a couple of salvos of soda and water, the "plastic" taste of the mattress is fairly well cleared. If you decide to try this, bear in mind that air mattresses and air beds are not specifically designed to haul potable water. There is always the possibility that chemicals used in the manufacturing process may not be agreeable with human physiology.” By Russ and Tina De Maris


Add a portable, battery-powered water pump to your boondocking arsenal

“Boondockers know that being efficient with waste water, electricity and fresh water make a big difference in how long they can camp without having to dump waste tanks, charge batteries, and replenish their water supply. One piece of equipment that they can add to their rig's arsenal is a portable water pump, which can save them effort, time and hassle.” Read more. From:


Wash your veggies
“One of the perks of RVing is being able to shop local farmers' markets and roadside stands, and to sample fresh local produce that may be different than our regular fare. But remember, always wash the produce before eating or cooking it to clean off soil from the farm and to eliminate potential germs from farm workers and handlers. To keep from wasting your limited fresh water, wash the fruit or produce in a bowl of water instead of under a running faucet. Then use the water to flush your toilet or water your plants. “

From Me: Add some vinegar to the wash water, to sanitize the veggies.


On This Day:

Big Ben goes into operation in London, May 31, 1859:

“The famous tower clock known as Big Ben, located at the top of the 320-foot-high St. Stephen's Tower, rings out over the Houses of Parliament in Westminster, London, for the first time on this day in 1859.

After a fire destroyed much of the Palace of Westminster--the headquarters of the British Parliament--in October 1834, a standout feature of the design for the new palace was a large clock atop a tower. The royal astronomer, Sir George Airy, wanted the clock to have pinpoint accuracy, including twice-a-day checks with the Royal Greenwich Observatory. While many clockmakers dismissed this goal as impossible, Airy counted on the help of Edmund Beckett Denison, a formidable barrister known for his expertise in horology, or the science of measuring time.

Denison's design, built by the company E.J. Dent & Co., was completed in 1854; five years later, St. Stephen's Tower itself was finished. Weighing in at more than 13 tons, its massive bell was dragged to the tower through the streets of London by a team of 16 horses, to the cheers of onlookers. Once it was installed, Big Ben struck its first chimes on May 31, 1859. Just two months later, however, the heavy striker designed by Denison cracked the bell. Three more years passed before a lighter hammer was added and the clock went into service again. The bell was rotated so that the hammer would strike another surface, but the crack was never repaired.

The name "Big Ben" originally just applied to the bell but later came to refer to the clock itself. Two main stories exist about how Big Ben got its name. Many claim it was named after the famously long-winded Sir Benjamin Hall, the London commissioner of works at the time it was built. Another famous story argues that the bell was named for the popular heavyweight boxer Benjamin Caunt, because it was the largest of its kind.

Even after an incendiary bomb destroyed the chamber of the House of Commons during the Second World War, St. Stephen's Tower survived, and Big Ben continued to function. Its famously accurate timekeeping is regulated by a stack of coins placed on the clock's huge pendulum, ensuring a steady movement of the clock hands at all times. At night, all four of the clock’s faces, each one 23 feet across, are illuminated. A light above Big Ben is also lit to let the public know when Parliament is in session.”


Three U.S. presidents close chapters on the Cold War, May 31, 1988:

“On this day in history, three U.S. presidents in three different years take significant steps toward ending the Cold War.

Beginning on May 28, 1988, President Ronald Reagan met Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev for a four-day summit in Russia. Upon his election in 1980, Reagan had abandoned Nixon, Ford and Carter's attempts to diffuse political tensions between the two superpowers and instead instigated an enormous build-up of arms and rhetoric against the Soviet Union. The Soviets could not keep up with the U.S.'s massive defense spending and this, along with Gorbachev's policy of granting increasing freedom to Soviet citizens (glasnost), helped to erode hard-line communism within Russia. In a remarkable and symbolic address to a group of Moscow University students on May 31, Reagan stood in front of an enormous bust of Lenin and spoke openly about freedom, technology, creativity and his desire to see the Berlin Wall torn down. He told the students your generation is living in one of the most exciting, hopeful times in Soviet history when the first breath of freedom stirs the air and the heart beats to the accelerated rhythm of hope, when the accumulated spiritual energies of a long silence yearn to break free.

Two years to the day after Reagan's 1988 visit, and just about a year after the 1989 demolition of the Berlin Wall, Reagan's successor George H. W. Bush met with Gorbachev in the United States to discuss the reunification of East and West Germany. Bush and Gorbachev outlined a plan that would unite the separate communist and democratic spheres into one nation not seen since World War II. In 1991, after an aborted communist coup against Gorbachev, Boris Yeltsin became president and the Soviet Union was officially declared over, dismantled and re-named Russia. Most of the former Soviet satellite territories were granted their independence. Russia then initiated tentative steps toward a capitalist economic system.

On this day in 1994, President Bill Clinton pledged continued cooperation with Russia in a New World Order, declaring that the U.S. would no longer point nuclear missiles at Russia, ending the antagonism and fear of mutually assured destruction that characterized the half-century-long Cold War between the two superpowers.”



Misty and I drove down to Jay’s to pick him up for our eye doctor’s appointments.  As usual, he wasn’t ready, but I had allowed for that. He seemed to have got it in his head that this was a walk-in type of test, even though I had told him otherwise.

Fortunately, we hadn’t considered this a real shopping day, as our sight was extremely hampered by our dilated eyes afterwards.  The bright sun was a killer, even with sunglasses on.  I had to grab a cart to steady myself to walk into Home Depot next door.   We picked out some nice brass hardware for latching the bed base and dinette table in the cargo trailer, for when it is in toyhaul mode. 

As we were leaving Kroger’s, the sun was still getting to us, but Jay spotted an abandoned overturned cooler on the side of the parking lot.  He swooped it up, and the unopened beer cans laying around it.   Either it fell off a truck, or someone was arrested for Public Intoxication and had to leave it there. He was tickled pink, as he doesn’t get his SS check until today.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Short-tailed Albatross. Robin’s Nest. Birds and Coffee Beans. 100 Parrots Saved & Parrot Care. Hermit Thrush Songs. "Seagulls"? Bushtits. First Indy. Kentucky River. Bugs and Birds.

For “Winged Wednesday”:

Short-tailed Albatross

Short-tailed Albatross, USFWS

“The Short-tailed is a medium-sized albatross, with a wingspan of seven to eight feet. The adult has a white head and body and a golden crown and nape. The large pink bill is distinctive.

Once abundant and widespread in the northern Pacific, the Short-tailed Albatross was nearly driven to extinction by Japanese plume hunters in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries. The species had declined to about ten pairs by 1953, but has rebounded due to conservation efforts, including protection of its main breeding areas on Torishima.

The species is listed under the U.S. Endangered Species Act as Endangered, and remains vulnerable because Torishima is an active volcano; an eruption could have a devastating impact, as could the introduction of predators, especially rats. To guard against such disasters, conservationists have translocated birds from Torishima to Mukojima Island, also in Japan, to establish a second nesting colony there.

Bycatch mitigation measures have also helped reduce the threat to these and other albatrosses posed by longline fisheries.

Most recently, a pair of Short-tails has begun breeding on Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge, and several individuals have been sighted at other islands in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, providing hope that a colony will one day establish itself there. Read more about this in ABC's recent press release!


Robins - 4 Eggs and 4 Weeks (Shown in 3+ minutes!)

“A robin built a nest in a hanging basket on our porch and laid 4 eggs. That kept mom and dad busy for the next four weeks. Here's what happened.”


Wake up save the birds. By Birds & Beans

“Once again Birds & Beans® has brought in all the coffee harvest from Gaia Estate in the Pacific coastal tropical forest region of Carazo in Nicaragua. Farmers Jefferson Shriver and Maria Gabriela Narvaez Quesada have turned Gaia into a wonderful and sustainable farm expanding community employment, growing great coffee and caring for the environment. Kenn and Kimberly Kaufman went to Gaia in 2011 and recorded over 100 bird species and 2,500 individual birds at Gaia.”

Smithsonian's seal

Why does Bird Friendly Certified Matter?

A constantly increasing majority of the coffee Americans drink is grown on Latin American sun coffee farms, eco-deserts. These farms are built by destroying what was beautiful tropical habitat. These tropical forests were home to many species of birds and plants and, in particular, the winter refuge for over 100 of our North Americans migratory bird species. Beautiful birds including Scarlet Tanager, Chestnut-Sided Warbler, Baltimore Oriole, and the Wood Thrush. When these birds migrate south during our winter they are increasingly finding survival difficult because of sun-coffee farms. Populations are dropping – one spring they might not come back. This is why the only coffee we should drink should be shade grown, organic coffee with the Bird Friendly® certification on the bag.
The Smithsonian began rigorously inspecting shade farms in Latin America twenty years ago to ensure they met with scientific standards that would allow our migratory bird species to thrive. We should all be drinking and talking about Smithsonian certified Bird Friendly® coffee.”

“Order a bag or two today and tell us how you like it. We will roast your order within 7 days of sending it to you and hope you fall in love with Birds & Beans®. If you are not 100% satisfied we will refund your full cost including shipping and handling, just call us and tell us you want your money back.” From:


Parrot’s Flight to Freedom

“The HSUS Animal Rescue Team along with The Humane Society of Greater Dayton helped rescue more than 100 parrots and other birds from deplorable conditions in Moraine, Ohio.”

1. Help these birds and rescue efforts like this one

2. Support your local bird rescue or shelter »

3. If you have a pet bird, treat 'em right »

“If you already share your home with a feathered friend, it's important to fly the extra mile to give him or her the best life possible with you. Provide the biggest cage you can afford. Offer regular access to stimulating toys and fresh fruits and vegetables. Provide as much out-of-cage time as you can manage. Learn everything you can about your parrot's specific behavior and needs (your local parrot rescue may offer behavior and feeding workshops). And schedule regular check-ups with an avian veterinarian. All parrots are highly intelligent and social, so treat them as a member of the family, and watch their hearts soar. More on pet bird care »

4. Never buy a bird »

“Did you know there are countless homeless parrots (big and small) in animal shelters and rescue groups across the country? Because of their beauty and intelligence, parrots have been overbred, and many wind up in homes with caretakers who didn't know what they were getting into. Through no fault of their own, the birds usually end up suffering in the end. What this means is that if you really want a bird, you can be fairly certain there's a bird out there who really wants you.

So, do your research, and never buy a bird from a pet store or online. Find a reputable avian rescue group in your area »”  

5. Fly right »    From:


Songs and Calls - They're Not the Same

A whole vocabulary for listening to birds!

Listen to it at:

“To our ear, the haunting song of this Hermit Thrush is musical, even ethereal. To another Hermit Thrush, the song signals that a male is laying claim to a territory and seeking a mate. These thrushes, like other songbirds, broadcast a variety of calls. Call notes can signal many things – alarm at a predator or aggression toward a rival. Or they may simply maintain contact between members of a pair or flock. So the next time you hear a bird sing or call, listen carefully. You may be introduced to a whole new vocabulary.
What birds are singing and calling around your home?”


Gulls or "Seagulls"?

Sometimes they are. Sometimes they're not.

“Gulls seem so much a part of the sea that we often just call them "seagulls," a colloquial title for these graceful, ubiquitous creatures. Twenty-two species breed in North America. The Pacific coast is home to the aptly named Western Gulls. The familiar Ring-billed Gull nests all across the northern states and Canadian provinces. Herring Gulls breed along the Great Lakes and Northeast waterways, while these Laughing Gulls nest all along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts.”


Bushtits  What bird comes in packs of 30?

“Weighing about as much as four paperclips, Bushtits are smaller than many hummingbirds. And they take full advantage of their diminutive size. While larger insect-eaters forage on the upper surfaces of leaves and twigs, Bushtits hang beneath them, plucking all the tiny insects and spiders hiding out of sight of other birds. They pair off to build a foot-long, pendulous sack of a nest. (This male Bushtit is working on a nest.) In fall and winter, Bushtits go about in flocks of 30 or more, one bird following after another. Where they live in Western suburbia, a flock of Bushtits can do a great job of ridding a garden of harmful aphids and scale insects. Shun the pesticides and let these guys do the work!”


On This Day:

First Indianapolis 500 is run, May 30, 1911:

“On May 30, 1911, the inaugural Indianapolis 500 is run at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indiana. The 200-lap, two-and-a-half mile race has since become a Memorial Day weekend tradition. With the exception of a break in 1917 and 1918 for World War  and from 1942 to 1945 for World War I, it has been run every year since, and is now the largest sporting event in the world, attended by about 270,000 spectators annually.

When the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was designed, the track was meant to have a crushed rock and tar surface. That surface was abandoned after only a few races in 1909, due to fatal results caused by unevenness. The rock and tar was replaced by over 3 million street-paving bricks that were filled in with sand and then mortar for strength. The track has since been referred to as "the brickyard," although subsequent resurfacing has covered all but about three feet of the bricks.

At the first Indy 500 in 1911, 40 cars met the qualifications to race. Track founder Carl Fisher felt the large number could lead to danger, so he decided to lead the first lap around the track at about 40 or 45 miles per hour, before pulling off to the side. The "pace car" has since become standard practice at all auto races.

In the 30th mile of the race, 80,000 spectators watched as a driver from Chicago lost a front wheel, which caused his car to turn over on the track. Both the driver and his mechanic, who rode in the front seat with him, were thrown from the car. The mechanic landed against a fence and was killed instantly, while the driver escaped with a broken arm. The race continued, and the crowd watched nervously as accidents piled up, knowing another fatality could take place at any moment. None did, and Ray Harroun, driving a Marmon, was declared the winner with a time of 06:41:08. Harroun was the only driver in the race who didn’t ride with a mechanic.    Instead, he employed a rear-view mirror, his own invention, to keep an eye on the other cars on the track.


Waters of Kentucky River peak, May 30, 1927:

“On this day in 1927, the Kentucky River peaks during a massive flood that kills 89 people and leaves thousands homeless. Torrential rains caused this unprecedented flood.

This flood had a serious long-term impact on the communities of the region: 12,000 people were left homeless and men were out of work for months as the mines in which most worked had to be shut down. As with most floods, it was the flooding of small streams rather than a major river that caused the most deaths. Major rivers that flood can cause serious property and agricultural damage, but do not usually cause deaths because it takes more time for them to flood, usually providing ample warning to people nearby. Smaller rivers and creeks tend to flood suddenly when inundated by local storm bursts; the sudden waves of water that kill people usually come out of these smaller rivers.

Floods are the deadliest weather phenomenon in the United States, causing about 140 deaths annually.”



Prime-on-porchJay called to say that he had found the last of the kittens from the litter that we had trapped.  But it was very thin and had a broken leg.  Misty and I rushed down there to get him and the kitten.  Such a shame, it was feral ‘tortie’. (Tortoiseshell color like my Prime pictured) It was so weak that it couldn’t put up a fight. I wish we could have caught it sooner before it got in such bad shape. Even Jay was sorry for the poor little thing.  We came back here and Animal Control picked it up. I made sure they put it in a cage with a soft blankie. So, one more kitten won’t be suffering or making 400,000 cats in the next 10 years.

Bugs and Birds:

First, the mosquitoes.   Last year we didn’t have to worry about skeeters or fruit flies because of the drought, but they have come back with a vengeance this year. Jay got on a ladder and changed the bulbs in the outside lights to yellow bug lights.  Even Misty has got used to me not going out with her at dusk, as the skeeters would cross the county to come get a piece of me. They must know that I am allergic to them. There are spray cans of Repel at each door and in each vehicle, but I hate to slather that DEET on me.

Then the fruit flies.   I don’t know how they get in here, but I have outfoxed them.  I get an empty cat food can, put a tiny bit of canned cat food, banana or other fruit in it. Cover it with plastic wrap and secure it with a rubber band. Then I punch a few holes in the plastic with an ice pick.  So I have my own “Fruit Fly Motel”, they check in, but can’t check out. As soon as I have enough trapped, I put that in the trash and start again.

Then the birds.   There are some mockingbirds defending what they think is their territory.  When they pay the Property Taxes, insurance and POA here, then they can think that.  The last couple of days when I have been in the back yard with Misty re-planting some of my aloe vera, these birds kept on squawking and swooping at me.  Prime, watching from the screen porch, had a lot of fun watching them guard my shed.  While Jay and I were working on the cargo trailer, they would dive bomb down and actually peck him.  If we needed anything out of the shed, I had to get it.  They did not want Jay around yesterday.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Big Thicket, TX. Martin Dies, Jr. State Park. The Forks. Alabama-Coushatta Indian Tribes. Ghost Road. Mt. Everest. Bob Hope Day. Cargo Trailer.

For “Travel Tuesday”: Let’s visit The Big Thicket, TX

“Historical limits of the Big Thicket region prior to the Texas Revolution. Deforestation has dramatically reduced its size.

"One's fondness for the area is hard to explain. It has no commanding peak or awesome gorge, no topographical feature of distinction. Its appeal is more subtle." - Big Thicket Legacy, University of Texas Press, 1977.

The terrain in the Big Thicket is unremarkable and offers none of the impressive views that can be found in many other National Parks and Preserves. The area lies on the flat coastal plain of Texas, and is crossed by numerous small streams. The extent of the region was once much larger than today covering more than 2 million acres (8,100 km) in east Texas. The Spaniards, who once ruled the region, defined its boundaries in the north as El Camino Real de los Tejas, a trail that ran from central Texas to Nacogdoches; in the south as La Bahia Road or Atascosito Road, a trail that ran from southwest Louisiana into southeast Texas west of Galveston Bay; to the west by the Brazos River; and to the east by the Sabine River. Timber harvesting in the 19th and 20th centuries dramatically reduced the extent of the dense woodlands.

The Big Thicket's geographical features are believed to have their origins with the Western Interior Seaway, an inland sea that covered much of North America during the Cretaceous period. Over time, water smoothed out the land along what is now Texas's coastline.

Small towns are contained within the Big Thicket. Most of these towns developed in the late 19th century in support of the lumber industry, as evidenced by names like Lumberton. As transportation through the area improved (including the construction of US 59, US 69 and 96), many of the towns slowly became suburbs of the much larger cities of Houston and Beaumont to their south.”


The Big Thicket National Preserve

Big Thicket Visitors Center Entrance“You'll want to schedule time to visit some of the great attractions found in the Big Thicket area. You'll find everything from historical and natural sites to art, shopping, dining and even an Indian Reservation.

The Big Thicket National Preserve is one of the most popular attractions in the area. The Preserve is home to hundreds of unique species of wildlife and natural wetlands. You can hike, bike, and enjoy other fun and educational activities with the new visitor center.

Neches, Angelina,Canoeing along Village Creek, the Neches River, or through the Big Thicket is one of the most popular activities for visitors. Several area canoe outfitters offer the options of renting you own canoes for the day or signing up for one of their guided tours.

“Several festivals and events are held throughout the year such as the antique car show, the 4-wheeler Mud Fest, old fashioned Cane Syrup Making, monthly Trade Days and more.

Beautiful golf courses, gorgeous bicycle trails, horseback riding, bird watching, canoeing, fishing, hunting and hiking are a few of the activities available for the outdoor enthusiast.”    To find out more, you can visit the Big Thicket Directory website.”

Big Thicket National Preserve

Big Thicket National Preserve (National Park Service)

“The "Big Thicket"—now there's a resonant name, one that conjures images of Grimm Brothers' fairytales and Blair Witches. But in this 83,000-acre swath of East Texas's Piney Woods, truth may just be stranger than fiction: Dank, dark, and overgrown, the Big Thicket is a maze of swamps, rivers, and impenetrably dense forests, a place both weird and wonderful. There aren't many undiscovered gems left in the National Parks and Preserves system, but Big Thicket is one of them.” Read more:


“Just a few hours from Houston, laid-back adventure beckons at Martin Dies Jr. State Park. Located in the northern section of the Big Thicket area.”

Best Place to Channel Your Inner Angelina

“If you want to see East Texas as the Native Americans did, take a guided canoe trip down the Angelina and Neches Rivers from Martin Dies Jr. State Park, says naturalist interpreter Katherine Crippens. “This trip is the best way to see the backwater sloughs and bayou areas between the two rivers and enjoy the flora and fauna of the area.” Trips are offered the third Saturday of the month. Can’t get to East Texas?”

Take the trip on YouTube:

Martin Dies, Jr. State Park, north of Beaumont, sits on the edge of the Big Thicket National Preserve. Experience the magic of the east Texas piney woods by paddling through the cypress swamp or hiking under the tall trees.”

“Martin Dies, Jr. State Park, until 1965 known as the Dam B State Park, is a 705-acre recreational area in Jasper and Tyler Counties between Woodville and Jasper on B. A. Steinhagen Reservoir (15,000 acres). The land for the park was acquired under a 50-year lease from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 1964 and was opened in 1965.

The Angelina and Neches rivers find each other at Martin Dies, Jr. State Park.

“Flora/Fauna: Located at the edge of the Big Thicket National Preserve, the park is in the heavily-forested area known as the "East Texas Pineywoods." The park has numerous creeks, known as sloughs, and cypress, willow, beech, magnolia and sweet bay are common. Each fall the golden hues of beeches are brilliant against the reds of blackgums and oaks, mixed among the evergreen pines. Hiking trails provide excellent opportunities to view wildlife, including woodland warblers, woodpeckers, bluebirds, herons, wood ducks, cranes, and alligators, as the park is adjacent to Angelina-Neches-Dam B Wildlife Management Area.”


Floating the Forks, By Mary-Love Bigony

in the Neches River Basin,

“Known by generations of locals as "The Forks," the swampy forest at the confluence of the Angelina and Neches rivers seems as wild and untamed today as it must have seemed when Anglo-American settlers began moving into Southeast Texas in the 1830s. Accessible only by boat, the shady, winding backwater sloughs harbor a variety of birds, animals and legends.



“The Forks was wild country," wrote the late Dan Lay of a Angelina & Neches Riverboat trip he took through the area in 1938.

"Endless sloughs snaked among cypress and tupelo gum trees, and oaks lined the banks. Alligators sank beneath the water.

A few years before, deer hunters on one of the sloughs shot a 'gator that weighed more than 1,200 pounds. According to legend, ivory-billed woodpeckers still lived there."

Paddling the ForksToday the Forks and the acres surrounding it are part of the Angelina-Neches/Dam B Wildlife Management Area. Once a month, Martin Dies, Jr. State Park offers a guided canoe trip down the Angelina and Neches rivers and into the Forks. Together, the state park and adjacent wildlife management area provide a unique East Texas experience year-round for canoeists and kayakers, as well as campers, hikers, anglers and cyclists.”

“Bee Tree Slough comes in on river right about a half mile below camp. Here the river bends south, shortly to join the Neches. Turn north into a large bay that is the mouth of the slough.

Here the river bends south,Bee Tree Slough winds into a vast hardwood bottom land swamp, forming a passage between the Angelina and the Neches. The many species of oaks here drop a vast amount of acorns that cover the forest floor and float on the swamp, providing food for ducks, geese, hogs, deer and other wildlife. Paddle the slough through to the Neches then down to the take out at the State Park.”


Alabama-Coushatta Indian Reservation

Alabama Coushatta Children's Powwow Jan. 2011

Children's Pow Wow, 2011

“One of only three Indian reservations in Texas, the Alabama-Coushatta reservation represents the distinctive heritage of this small yet proud group. Until recently, the tribe offered tours, a museum, and cultural events for tourists; unfortunately, these services are no longer in operation. Regardless, visitors are encouraged to spend time at the reservation’s campground or fishing on at Lake Tombigbee.Lake Tombigbee.

Despite the recent closing of the tribe’s cultural facilities, the reservation still operates the popular Lake Tombigbee Campground, offering primitive sites, teepees, full-capacity RV stations, new restrooms with bathhouses, swimming areas, and hiking and nature trails.”

Baskets made by the Alabama Coushatta.

“Nestled deep in the Big Thicket area of East Texas' oldest Indian Reservation, home of the Alabama-Coushatta Indian Tribes.  The Reservation is located on 4,600 acres of verdant timberland and lies close to the center of the Big Thicket.  It was established by Sam Houston in 1854 as a reward to the Alabama-Coushatta Indians for the courage they displayed in remaining neutral during the Texas War for Independence from Mexico.

A convenience store is located on the reservation (intersection of U.S. Hwy 190 and FM 2500) with gasoline and some souvenir items.  Complete camping facilities are available: primitive sites to RV stations with full hook-ups around the shimmering 26-acre Lake Tombigbee, stocked with game fish waiting to be caught.  Area lighting, picnic tables, fire rings, drinking water, swimming area, hiking and nature trails are available.

Alabama-Coushatta IndianThough the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe no longer operates their tourism facilities at this time, special events are scheduled throughout the year, including the annual Powwow in June and the Music Festival and Fireworks in July. Please call for specific times and dates.”

About the Tribe:


Ghost Road

Bragg Road of Hardin County, Texas (looking south)

“The Light of Saratoga  is a legend located in the Big Thicket of Southeast Texas.  A dirt road leading north out of the town of Saratoga is the core of the area's predominant ghost story. Bragg Road, as it is more formally known, was constructed in 1934 on the bed of a former railroad line that had serviced the lumber industry.

In the 1940s, stories began to circulate about a mysterious light, sometimes referred to as the Light of Saratoga, that could be seen on and near the road at night. No adequate explanation of the light has been offered. The various ghost stories include reference to the Kaiser Burnout, long-dead conquistadors looking for their buried treasure, a decapitated railroad worker, and a lost night hunter eternally searching for a way out.

Less paranormal explanations include swamp gas, and automobile headlights filtering through the trees.


On This Day:

Hillary and Tenzing reach Everest summit, May 29, 1953:

“At 11:30 a.m. on May 29, 1953, Edmund Hillary of New Zealand and Tenzing Norgay, a Sherpa of Nepal, become the first explorers to reach the summit of Mount Everest, which at 29,035 feet above sea level is the highest point on earth. The two, part of a British expedition, made their final assault on the summit after spending a fitful night at 27,900 feet. News of their achievement broke around the world on June 2, the day of Queen Elizabeth II's coronation, and Britons hailed it as a good omen for their country's future.

Mount Everest sits on the crest of the Great Himalayas in Asia, lying on the border between Nepal and Tibet. Called Chomo-Lungma, or "Mother Goddess of the Land," by the Tibetans, the English named the mountain after Sir George Everest, a 19th-century British surveyor of South Asia. The summit of Everest reaches two-thirds of the way through the air of the earth's atmosphere--at about the cruising altitude of jet airliners--and oxygen levels there are very low, temperatures are extremely cold, and weather is unpredictable and dangerous.

Since Hillary and Norgay's historic climb, numerous expeditions have made their way up to Everest's summit. In 1960, a Chinese expedition was the first to conquer the mountain from the Tibetan side, and in 1963 James Whittaker became the first American to top Everest. In 1975, Tabei Junko of Japan became the first woman to reach the summit. Three years later, Reinhold Messner of Italy and Peter Habeler of Austria achieved what had been previously thought impossible: climbing to the Everest summit without oxygen. Nearly two hundred climbers have died attempting to summit the mountain. A major tragedy occurred in 1996 when eight climbers from various nations died after being caught in a blizzard high on the slopes.”


Bob Hope celebrates 100th birthday, May 29, 2003:

“Thanks for the memory”.   “Some 35 U.S. states declare it to be Bob Hope Day on this day in 2003, when the iconic comedic actor and entertainer turns 100 years old.

In a public ceremony held in Hollywood, city officials renamed the intersection of Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Avenue--famous for its historic buildings and as a central point on the Hollywood Walk of Fame--Bob Hope Square. Several 1940s-era U.S. planes flew overhead as part of an air show honoring Hope’s longtime role as an entertainer of U.S. armed forces all over the world. Hope, who was then suffering from failing eyesight and hearing and had not been seen in public for three years, was too ill to attend the public ceremonies. Three of his children attended the naming ceremony, along with some of his younger show-business colleagues, including Mickey Rooney.

One of the leading talents on the vaudeville scene by the 1930s, the London-born, American-raised Hope met his future wife (of nearly seven decades), the nightclub singer Dolores Reade, while he was performing on Broadway in the musical Roberta. They married in 1934, and four years later Hope launched his own radio program, The Bob Hope Show, which would run for the next 18 years. One of the country’s most popular comics, Hope had a successful film career largely thanks to the series of seven “Road” movies he made with Bing Crosby and Dorothy Lamour, including Road to Singapore (1940), Road to Morocco (1942), Road to Utopia (1946) and Road to Rio (1947).

In 1941, after America’s entrance into World War II, Hope began performing for U.S. troops abroad; he would play shows for more than a million American servicemen by 1953. Some 65 million people watched him perform for troops in Vietnam on Christmas Eve in 1966, in his largest broadcast. Hope also became a legend for his countless TV specials, which he would perform over the course of some five decades. He hosted the Academy Awards ceremony a total of 18 times, more than any other Oscars host.

Dubbed “Mr. Entertainment” and the “King of Comedy,” Hope died on July 27, 2003, less than two months after his 100th birthday celebration. He was survived by Dolores, their four adopted children--Linda, Anthony, Nora and Kelly--and four grandchildren.”



Jay called me early, said he was ready to work, and start early, too.  Misty and I went to get him an hour early, but he wasn’t ready, so we still only started working a half an hour earlier than usual. 

Top-View-Shelf-over-water-tank We finished making the shelf over the water tank in the corner under the sink of the cargo trailer. It is made in two pieces, so that if there is a problem, the left hand side can be moved out of the way. There is carpet fastened around the plumbing’s access hole, so stuff can’t fall down in there. Now we can install the sink and hook up it’s water lines and drain, which are already plumbed.

Table-pole-stored Then we made a way to fasten the table and pole behind the bed base, for when the trailer is in toy-hauler mode.

There is a strip of carpet on the wall, so that the Formica on the table top won’t rub on the paneling.

The removable bed base was put up there and then the mattress:



This is the view from the outside with the big rear cargo door open.

The right side of the dinette’s cushions are stood up behind the mattress, as well as the table, pole, and bed base.  The left side of the dinette can still be used like this. Jay wants to hang the mattress from a sling in the ceiling, but I think it would block the roof vents if one had to stop somewhere when whatever toy(s) are loaded in there. I think as everything fits right there, why not leave it alone.

The weather was warm, but I didn’t have to turn the house AC on until lunch time, so Prime enjoyed being out on the screen porch all morning.  Still no news from her potential new ‘Mom’. 

We felt like we accomplished something yesterday.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Honor Flight Network. Military Spouses. Canine Good Citizen. Bison Back Home. Cross River Gorillas. George Washington. Volkswagen Founded.

For “Memorial Monday”:

The Honor Flight Network

“In May 2005, an incredible effort was started to bring veterans of World War II, Korea and Vietnam from across the country to see the Washington, D.C. memorials constructed in their honor. The Honor Flight Network got its start when Earl Morse, a retired Air Force Captain and physician assistant in a small VA clinic in Springfield, Ohio, wanted to find a way to honor those he’d been caring for during his nearly 30-year career.

In the spring of 2004, a popular topic of discussion among Morse’s patients was the recent completion of the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. When Earl asked these veterans if they would plan to see the memorial in person, many said they hoped to do so with the assistance of friends or family members. However, during follow-up visits at Morse’s clinic, most of these veterans had resigned themselves to the fact that it would not be physically or financially feasible to make the trip to Washington.

Adopt A Vet

Morse was determined to fix this. In addition to being a physician assistant, Morse also flew as a private pilot for one of the nation’s largest aero clubs. In December 2004, Morse asked one of his patients if he could personally fly him to visit his memorial in D.C., at no cost to the veteran. The veteran broke into tears and gladly accepted Morse’s invitation. By January of 2005, Morse had reached out to several fellow pilots to ask their assistance in making this dream a reality for many more veterans. He held a meeting with about 150 pilots and outlined a proposal for flying veterans to the D.C. memorials. He made two requests clear. His first was that the veterans paid nothing; the entire cost of the flight would be absorbed by the volunteer pilot—anywhere from $600 to $1200. His second request was that the volunteer pilots personally escorted the veterans around D.C. for the entire day. At the end of his pitch, 11 pilots stood up and volunteered.”  Click here to continue reading.


More at:  and


Saluting Unsung Heroes: Military Spouses

“During Military Appreciation Month, we salute not only the brave men and women who wear the uniform but also the individuals who provide unyielding support from the home front –  our nation’s military spouses. During every critical turn in our nation’s history, the military spouse has been a calm, strong presence working to support the heroes who have placed their lives in harm’s way on our behalf.”


It is also “Mammal Monday”:

The American Kennel Club came out with this great test for dogs back in 1989.
The Canine Good Citizen program was developed to promote responsible dog ownership and to encourage the training of well-mannered dogs.
Here is what your dog is required to do:
- Accepting a friendly stranger.
- Sitting politely for petting.
- Allowing basic grooming procedures.
- Walking on a loose lead.
- Walking through a crowd.
- Sitting and lying down on command and staying in place.
- Coming when called.
- Reacting appropriately to another dog.
- Reacting appropriately to distractions.
- Calmly enduring supervised separation from the owner.
- Evaluators sometimes combine elements during the actual test.
Good stuff for your dog to know.
Also, the CGC can in some cases help you if you rent and some insurance companies will give you a break on their rates.


Saving Humpback Whale:

“Michael Fishbach narrates his encounter with a humpback whale entangled in a fishing net.”


Born To Be Wild Once More

“Let them kill, skin and sell until the buffalo is exterminated.”  – Gen. Phillip Sheridan in 1875

Bison at Fort Peck, with one of the newest herd members. (Bill Campbell)

Bison are returned to their ancestral plains

“Home on the range, where the deer and antelope play? Forget about it. How about buffalo (yeah, I know they’re really bison).

After years of dreaming about getting one of the original Americans back out on the prairie where they belong, we’re a big step closer to seeing it happen.

After killing every last buffalo they could find, and starving the native folks who relied on them for food, 19th century market hunters missed a couple of handfuls of buffalo deep in the high country that would become America’s first national park, Yellowstone. The offspring of this small herd are among the last genetically pure buffalo (most other buffalo scattered across the country carry some cow genes).

Native tribes in northern Montana for years have sought to reestablish herds using Yellowstone stock. Until this year, they were blocked by cattle interests. But then the state agreed to move approximately 60 buffalo to the Fort Peck Indian reservation in far northeastern Montana. The Fort Belknap reservation, located in north central Montana, has asked for some buffalo and will hopefully get them soon.

Earthjustice attorney Tim Preso has worked for years on behalf of wild buffalo. Most of this work has been to ease rules unnaturally restricting buffalo to the confines of Yellowstone National Park. Outside the park, buffalo have for years been set upon by federal and state agents in helicopters, snowmobiles and on horseback—all intent on driving them back into the park.”     More at:  By John McManus.    17 May 2012

More about Bison at:

Senators Seek to Name Bison 'National Mammal'


Rare Footage of Cross River Gorillas

“Key support for the creation of the sanctuary was provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which also provided funding for the camera traps and other monitoring equipment. Other support for the project came from: Pro Wildlife; Berggorilla; and World Wide Fund for Nature.”


On This Day:

British soldier George Washington experiences combat for first time, May 28, 1754:

“George Washington, a young lieutenant colonel in the British Army and future president of the United States, leads an attack on French forces at Jumonville Glen on this day in 1754. The battle is later credited with being the opening salvo in the French and Indian War (1754 to 1763).

In the biography His Excellency: George Washington, historian Joseph Ellis recounts Washington's first combat experience. Washington and 40 colonial troops had been encamped near the French garrison at Fort Duquesne when he received an urgent message to rescue Indian allies in the area who were threatened by French forces. In his official report of the encounter, Washington described how his troops, aided by warriors under the Indian leader Tanacharison, surrounded a detachment of 32 French soldiers near the fort on May 28 and, within 15 minutes, killed 10 of them, including the garrison's commander, wounded one and took another 21 prisoner.

Controversy surrounded the attack both at the time and after the war. Historical accounts indicate that the French commander, Joseph Coulon De Jumonville had actually tried to surrender but was slain by Tanacharison. Tanacharison's rash act incited the other warriors to kill and scalp nine other French soldiers before Washington could intervene. Ellis describes Washington as shocked and hapless and writes that he later tried to downplay the incident to his commanding officer. The French vilified Washington as the epitome of dishonor. The Jumonville Glen massacre remains a highly debated subject among scholars. In the aftermath of the encounter, Washington resigned his British army commission and returned to his family's plantation. In 1775, he returned to military service to lead the Continental Army in the American Revolutionary War.”


Volkswagen is founded, May 28, 1937:

“On this day in 1937, the government of Germany--then under the control of Adolf Hitler of the National Socialist (Nazi) Party--forms a new state-owned automobile company, then known as Gesellschaft zur Vorbereitung des Deutschen Volkswagens mbH. Later that year, it was renamed simply Volkswagenwerk, or "The People's Car Company."

Originally operated by the German Labor Front, a Nazi organization, Volkswagen was headquartered in Wolfsburg, Germany. In addition to his ambitious campaign to build a network of autobahns and limited access highways across Germany, Hitler's pet project was the development and mass production of an affordable yet still speedy vehicle that could sell for less than 1,000 Reich marks (about $140 at the time). To provide the design for this "people's car," Hitler called in the Austrian automotive engineer Ferdinand Porsche. In 1938, at a Nazi rally, the Fuhrer declared: "It is for the broad masses that this car has been built. Its purpose is to answer their transportation needs, and it is intended to give them joy." However, soon after the KdF (Kraft-durch-Freude)-Wagen ("Strength-Through-Joy" car) was displayed for the first time at the Berlin Motor Show in 1939, World War II began, and Volkswagen halted production. After the war ended, with the factory in ruins, the Allies would make Volkswagen the focus of their attempts to resuscitate the German auto industry.

Volkswagen sales in the United States were initially slower than in other parts of the world, due to the car's historic Nazi connections as well as its small size and unusual rounded shape. In 1959, the advertising agency Doyle Dane Bernbach launched a landmark campaign, dubbing the car the "Beetle" and spinning its diminutive size as a distinct advantage to consumers. Over the next several years, VW became the top-selling auto import in the United States. In 1960, the German government sold 60 percent of Volkswagen's stock to the public, effectively denationalizing it. Twelve years later, the Beetle surpassed the longstanding worldwide production record of 15 million vehicles, set by Ford Motor Company's legendary Model T between 1908 and 1927.

With the Beetle's design relatively unchanged since 1935, sales grew sluggish in the early 1970s. VW bounced back with the introduction of sportier models such as the Rabbit and later, the Golf. In 1998, the company began selling the highly touted "New Beetle" while still continuing production of its predecessor. After nearly 70 years and more than 21 million units produced, the last original Beetle rolled off the line in Puebla, Mexico, on July 30, 2003.”



Jay called early to say that he had a broken leg. Translation: He had hurt his leg. Probably did it on his ATV.

I don’t know what he had been up to, and the way he sounded, I knew I didn’t want him here. Misty and I drove down there for her walk anyway. We went to pick up some really nice men’s XXL clothes from their neighbor to donate to one of the better thrift shops.  Jay was closed up in his house with one of his drinking buddies, I recognized their car, so I didn’t see him.

Honor our troops this Memorial Day.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Pentecost. Shavuot. Britain's Jubilee Year. Who Will Dominate the Middle East? Jedediah Smith. Golden Gate Bridge. Calling Evil Good.

For “Scripture Sunday”:

Today is Pentecost. What is Pentecost?

Transcript at:


It is also Shavuot

“Shavuot, the Festival of Weeks, is the second of the three major festivals with both historical and agricultural significance (the other two are Passover and Sukkot). Agriculturally, it commemorates the time when the first fruits were harvested and brought to the Temple, and is known as Hag ha-Bikkurim (the Festival of the First Fruits).

Shavuot is not tied to a particular calendar date, but to a counting from Passover. Because the length of the months used to be variable, determined by observation (see Jewish Calendar), and there are two new moons between Passover and Shavuot, Shavuot could occur on the 5th or 6th of Sivan. However, now that we have a mathematically determined calendar, and the months between Passover and Shavuot do not change length on the mathematical calendar, Shavuot is always on the 6th of Sivan (the 6th and 7th outside of Israel.

Shavuot will occur on the following days on the American calendar:   May 27, 2012 (Jewish Year 5772) All Jewish holidays begin the evening before the date specified. This is because a Jewish "day" begins and ends at sunset, rather than at midnight. If you read the story of creation in Genesis Ch. 1, you will notice that it says, "And there was evening, and there was morning, one day." From this, we infer that a day begins with evening, that is, sunset.”  From:


Britain's Jubilee Year: A Time of Muted Celebration

“As one of the world’s most influential and powerful nations reaches a jubilee celebration, the nation faces many challenges. The Queen represents a memory of great glory for Britain. What is the future for this former world empire?”

Queen Elizabeth II
Queen Elizabeth II is a source of stability in unstable Britain
Source: Wikimedia Commons

“During a long period when the general governmental establishment in the United Kingdom and other Western nations is so little admired, certainly Britain has every reason to celebrate Queen’s Elizabeth’s 60 th year on the throne. She has been and still is a model monarch. She survived her annus horribilus (due to three of her grown children’s matrimonial conduct in the 1990s)—having seen her affection from her subjects rise to a new even higher level.

Former Prime Minister Tony Blair said of his Queen: “What I have found to be her most surprising attribute is how streetwise she is. I was always stunned by her ability to pick up the public mood and define it.”

Recently married grandson Prince William observed: “You present a challenge in front of her and she’ll climb it…She’s so dedicated and really determined to finish everything she’s started.”

Prince Harry joined the chorus: “Every time I find myself whingeing: ‘Why did I have to put on a dinner jacket and do this or that?’ I think to myself: ‘I can’t complain. At the end of the day, she has put her country way before anything she’s ever wanted to do. It’s her job.’”

Finally former American President George W. Bush stated, “Behind the important title is a very kind and compassionate woman.”

And yet ironically, the Queen has had to be the British monarch to preside over the decline of a great empire and the gradual waning of power, prestige and world influence. Strongly supported by Elizabeth the II, the British commonwealth of nations has partially mitigated these negative effects, but at the end of the day the commonwealth is not the old empire.

Professor and author Niall Ferguson wrote in Newsweek : “Like much of Europe, the UK economy now finds itself in a double-dip recession. Last week the Bank of England once again revised its growth forecast downwards. Although (mercifully) outside the euro zone, Britain will suffer even more if the crisis over Greece escalates into a full-scale breakdown of the European Monetary Union. International financial crises are not good for international financial centers [like London]” (“London’s Last Waltz,” May 28, 2012).

Today Britain finds itself faced with many threatening challenges at home, on the continent and further abroad. Take Scotland’s serious intent to leave the United Kingdom and negate the Treaty of Union of 1707. The spinoff would be incalculable. As Niall Ferguson further commented, “With Europe on the brink, the U.K. faces its own crisis.”

Only a thorough understanding of Britain’s prophetic legacy and history can give us the perspective to properly address the “why” of the UK’s gradual decline in the world. Watch current news and trends in Britain (from a biblical standpoint) in the pages of The Good News magazine (see Mark 13:32-37)  Request in print or download our free booklet The United States and Britain in Bible Prophecy . By John Ross SchroederPosted May 24, 2012


Egypt’s presidential election

By Associated Press, Updated: Saturday, May 26, 2:20 PMAP

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, center, observes the election processCAIRO — “Former President Jimmy Carter said Saturday that monitors noted violations during Egypt’s presidential elections but that the vote was generally acceptable and the irregularities won’t impact the final results.

The Atlanta-based Carter Center had 102 monitors at polling centers across Egypt for the landmark vote — the first since longtime leader Hosni Mubarak’s ouster last year in a mass uprising. Preliminary results showed a tight race at the top between the Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate, Mohammed Morsi, and Mubarak’s last prime minister, Ahmed Shafiq. The top two finishers will advance to the June 16-17 runoff.”


Who Will Dominate the Middle East?

“As America pulls out of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, other powers are rushing in to fill the vacuum. Domestic, regional and global forces are all vying for influence. Where are events in the ever-volatile Middle East headed?”

Who Will Dominate the Middle East?

“Massive crowds protested in Tahrir Square, Cairo, in early 2011 to demand change - and they got it.”      Source: Wikimedia

Sunni Crescent vs. Shiite Crescent

“Regional geopolitics pit the powerful "Sunni Crescent" led by Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates against the beleaguered "Shiite Crescent" states—Iran, Iraq and Lebanon.

Barry Rubin, director of global research in the International Affairs Center in Israel, sizes up the strategic battle for influence in The Jerusalem Post: "The new Middle East strategic battle is heating up, and this is only the start. It has nothing to do with Israel and everything to do with two more serious lines of battle: Arabs versus Persians [of Iran] and Sunni versus Shia Muslims . . .

"The real struggle is over who will control each Muslim majority country and who is going to lead the Middle East . . . The Sunni Arab position was stated very clearly by Amr Moussa, a veteran Arab nationalist and candidate for Egypt's presidency: '(The) Arab Middle East will not be run by Iran or Turkey'" ("The Region: The New Middle East's Internal Divisions," March 4, 2012).

Rubin later clarifies what is emerging: "What we are seeing again, for the first time in three decades . . . is an Egyptian bid to lead the Arabic-speaking world and even the whole region. On this point, Egyptian leftists, nationalists and Islamists are united.

"And in the first round, the battle over control of the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, Egypt won and Iran lost." (See "Hamas' Shifting Allegiance Reflects New Mideast Dynamics")

Egypt is the largest Arab country, with a population of 83 million, and has long had a major influence on the region. Now that Islamists have won 72 percent of the seats in the lower house and nearly as many in the upper, this fundamentalist orientation will likely be a major influence on the growing number of Islamic governments in the region.

Regional transformation will lead to what is foretold

What all this adds up to is that these multilayered shifting sands of domestic, regional and global forces blowing through the Middle East and North Africa are changing the region more dramatically than at any time in the last half century.

The factors underlying the major power shifts carry long-term effects, creating a dramatically different Middle East than what this generation has known.

And there's another source to help us see what's happening. Bible prophecy reveals how all these shifting forces will eventually play out.

The Arab Spring uprisings, in the short term, have focused the Arab world's attention on the changes swirling around them and away from their longtime nemesis—Israel. But, as prophecy lays out, the persistent hatred of Israel will in the long run grow exponentially as Islamic influence grows. Prophecies indicate that a more united group of Arab nations, perhaps sparked by religious zeal, will focus their rekindled hostility toward Israel.

This hostility will grow to a major crescendo leading to all-out war as we approach the end of this age. Psalm 83 contains an intriguing prophecy that shows a number of Middle Eastern countries forming a confederation of nations determined to cut off Israel from being a nation (verses 3-8).

Out of this region will arise a strong end-time leader Daniel the prophet calls "the king of the South"—successor to the ancient Greek rulers of Egypt (Daniel 11:40).   This ruler, probably backed by other Islamic nations joined in confederacy with him, will start the cascade of terrifying events leading to a massive war with the power and ruler the Bible refers to as "the king of the North"—successor to the ancient Greek rulers of Syria.

This power is synonymous with the final revival of the Roman Empire referred to in Scripture as the Beast—which will consist of a brief union of 10 nations (Revelation 17:12-14)

The forces of the North, Europe at this time, will sweep down through the Middle East in a major military counterattack that will overthrow the southern power and occupy key portions of the Middle East (Daniel 11:40-41) (See also "The Middle East: Focus of End-Time Bible Prophecy")

Ultimately, however, this European power and other eastern forces arrayed against it will resist the return of Jesus Christ as coming King and will suffer utter defeat (Revelation 16:12-14 17:14; 19:11-21).  (Our free Bible study aid booklet The Middle East in Bible Prophecy gives more details.)

In the meantime, Jesus tells all of us to stay on the alert to events heralding His coming (Matthew 24:42One major indicator we should be watching for is the rise of a unifying force and leader in the Middle East. Keep your eyes and interests fastened on significant developments in this critically important region.”  Complete article at:


On This Day:

Comanche kill mountain man Jedediah Smith, May 27, 1831:

“Jedediah Smith, one of the nation's most important trapper-explorers, is killed by Comanche Indians on the Santa Fe Trail.

Smith's role in opening up the Far West was not fully appreciated until modern scholars examined the records of his far-ranging journeys. As with all of the mountain men, Smith ventured west as a practical businessman working for eastern fur companies. His goal was to find new territories to trap beaver and otter and make trading contacts with Native Americans.

Nonetheless, beginning in 1822 when he made his first expedition with the fur trader William Ashley, Smith's travels provided information on western geography and potential trails that were invaluable to later pioneers. Smith's most important accomplishment was his rediscovery in 1824 of the South Pass, an easy route across the Rocky Mountains in modern-day western Wyoming. The first Anglo-Americans to cross the pass were fur traders returning east from a Pacific Coast trading post in 1812, yet the news of their discovery was never publicized. Smith, by contrast, established the South Pass as a well-known and heavily traveled route for fur trappers. A few decades later, it became a part of the Oregon Trail and greatly reduced the obstacles faced by wagon trains heading to Oregon and California.

During the next seven years, Smith filled in many other blank spots on the map of the Far West. Despite having opened many new territories for future pioneers, Smith had little to show for his years of dangerous efforts. In 1830, he returned to St. Louis, determined to go into the mercantile business and draft detailed maps of the country he had explored. Before he could get started, however, an associate convinced him to take a supply of goods to Santa Fe, New Mexico.

With a party of 83 men, Smith left St. Louis in early 1831 and headed south along the Cimarron River, a region known to be nearly devoid of potable water. Despite his years of wilderness experience, Smith was apparently overconfident in his ability to find water and did not take adequate supplies from St. Louis. By mid-May, the party's water supplies were almost exhausted, and the men started separating each day to search for waterholes.

On this day in 1831, Smith was riding alone when a hunting party of Comanche Indians attacked him. Dazed and weakened by lack of water, Smith nonetheless managed to shoot one of the Comanche before he was overwhelmed and killed.”

Did You Know?

Route 66 was built along one of Smith's trails to California.


Golden Gate Bridge opens, May 27, 1937:

“On this day in 1937, the Golden Gate Bridge, connecting San Francisco with Marin County, California, officially opens amid citywide celebration.

Named for the narrow strait that marks the entrance to the San Francisco Bay from the Pacific Ocean, the Golden Gate Bridge was constructed from January 1933 to May 1937. At the time, it was the longest suspension bridge in the world, at 4,200 feet. From the beginning, the bridge's location posed challenges for its construction, not least because of its proximity to the mighty San Andreas Fault, which passes from north to south through the San Francisco Bay area. In addition, the tumultuous waters of the strait posed grave dangers for the underwater construction work necessary to build the bridge.

Still, the engineer Joseph Strauss waged a tireless 16-year campaign to convince skeptical city officials and other opponents of the controversial project. On the bridge's opening day, he triumphantly exclaimed: "The bridge which could not and should not be built, which the War Department would not permit, which the rocky foundation of the pier base would not support, which would have no traffic to justify it, which would ruin the beauty of the Golden Gate, which could not be completed within my costs estimate of $27,165,000, stands before you in all its majestic splendor, in complete refutation of every attack made upon it."

By 6 a.m. on May 27, 18,000 people were lined up on both the San Francisco and Marin sides; in all, some 200,000 showed up that day. At the appointed hour, a foghorn blew and the toll gates opened, releasing the earliest arrivals, who rushed to be the first to cross. Many schools, offices and stores were closed, and the day was designated "Pedestrian Day." The next day, the bridge opened to vehicular traffic. Across the country in the White House, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt proclaimed the bridge open to the world, and by the end of the day, more than 32,000 vehicles had paid tolls and crossed. According to the official Web site of the Golden Gate Bridge, nearly 2 billion vehicles have crossed the bridge (in both north- and southbound directions) in the 70-plus years of its operation.”


The program on WGN This morning:

Calling Evil Good

“Where are the voices crying out against dishonesty, injustice and moral evil? And where are people who will heed the warnings?”


Transcript at:



Our usual Saturday conversation with Wendy, my daughter, was clouded by the passing of her 16 year old Pomeranian.  She had raised Snuggles from a pup, and she is taking it hard.  At least she had a week alone with Snuggles at their lake house at Somerville. She had gone up there to babysit a neighbor’s wonderful German Shepherd, “Shep”, while his ‘Mom’ was out of town, in exchange for being able to use their internet for her part time job.  (Something to do with daily posting stuff from the stock exchange.) Wendy and Richard intend to retire there, and they know and mingle with their neighbor’s more there than the ones they have had in West Colombia, TX for many years.  She has the frame of mind that I did when Levi died, she doesn’t want another dog for a long time, if ever. They do have another dog, but it is her son Tony’s dog, and he takes care of it.

Jay was ready to go to church when Misty and I went to get him.  On the way to the church down the wiggle-waggle country back roads to Cut-N-Shoot, he even remarked how he was looking forward to going, and he even felt more comfortable singing the hymns.  The sermon was about ‘The Battle of Good and Evil: The War for Men’s Soul’.  On the way home he reiterated how he wanted to stop drinking, but that it was so difficult after all these decades.  He was put on Ritalin as a small child, then moved on to drugs and alcohol, so he has never known what it is like to be in a normal state of mind.  Maybe, one day!