Today has been a full day. I got up at 6:00 to finish “battening down the hatches” so I could drive the RV to the gym for my personal training. From there I went to Discount Tires to have my tires checked. I was especially interested in learning whether the valve extension that was installed last month in Llano was doing its job. It was. The technician added valve stem covers on all the tires, at no charge.
My next stop was at Mack’s Truck Wash to have Daisy spiffed up. She was covered with pecan sap and dirt that had stuck to the sap. That’s the downside of parking under trees. The guys power-washed and then spray-waxed her. I really need to have them do a hand waxing job but I will have to do it sometime when I can be there all day. Daisy looks much better now, anyway.
When I arrived at the RV park, I discovered that the handle on my gray water tank valve had fallen off. Bruce opened the valve with pliers. He rigged up a temporary handle from wires but I’ll have to use a hammer to close the valve. I’ll just leave that valve open all the time until I can have a permanent repair done. I’m just glad that it wasn’t the one on the black water tank!
Fifteen members and two guests attended this rally. The guests, Brenda McPherson and Betty Burnett, have decided to join us. They will be eligible after they have joined the national club.
Today most of our group drove to Camp Verde General Store and Restaurant for lunch. The food and service were excellent. It is located on the banks of the Verde Creek, about halfway between Bandera and Kerrville. I had seen the sign for it on my way back to Austin because I turn onto the road just before the store, but couldn’t see it due to all the large trees around it. I had thought that it was a vacation type of camp. Not so! It has an interesting history.
In 1854, Secretary of War Jefferson Davis (who later became President of the Confederacy) petitioned Congress to appropriate $30,000 for the Army to experiment with using camels for supply transport and other military purposes. The bill was approved by Congress on March 3, 1855. Major Henry Wayne and Lieutenant David Porter were put in command of securing the camels from the Middle East. The first shipment from Egypt (of nine swift dromedaries, twenty burden camels, plus four others of mixed breed) arrived via naval supply ship in April of 1856. The second load of 40 animals arrived during the spring of 1857. By the time the Civil War had begun, there were over 50 camels in residence at the Fort. During the winter of 1861, the Fort was captured by the Confederacy. When the Fort was recaptured by the US Government in 1865, there were more than 100 camels.
The camels could carry heavier loads and travel longer distances than mules and horses. However, the War Department sorely needed funds for reconstruction after the Civil War. The Fort was deactivated in 1869 - ending the experiment. A fire destroyed the buildings of Fort Camp Verde in 1910.
The present-day, two-story stone structure of Southern colonial design was constructed after a flood swept away the original building around 1900. It is in a beautiful setting and the gift shop is full of very nice items, many of them with the camel motif. I’ve never seen so many things that I didn’t know I needed.
Tonight we had dinner at Brick’s River Café, which is located in Bandera on the north bank of the Medina River. The food and service there were good, too.
Early this morning I walked down to the Medina River with Mikail Davenport and Judith Gadelia. The cool breeze made it a very pleasant walk.
Later I went with Ruth Stehling, Pat Shaw and Janie Cummings to the first anniversary celebration at the very impressive Natural History Museum. Special events included Happy Tails, an educational program featuring animals from South America, and Movieland Animals, who brought a camel and a water buffalo for photo ops. The Juan Infante International Hall featured new displays of a reproduction of Quetzalcoatlus, the largest prehistoric flying reptile, and a Ciganotosaurus skull. There was also a large jade Chinese lion sculpture, that I particularly liked.
The Happy Tails program was very interesting. After a discussion of the animals, their diet and their origin, the scientist took the animals around the crowd to let them pet the animals. [www.banderanhm.org]
The Capybara is the largest rodent in the world and is found savannas and dense forests. It has a heavy barrel-shaped body about 4 feet long. It has webbed feet, longer hind legs, three toes on the rear and four on the front feet, and vestigial tails. The dominate male communicates through purrs and whistles.
The very cute kinkajou is a rainforest mammal of the family Procyonidae related to olingos, coatis, raccoons, and the ringtail and cacomistle. It is also known as the "honey bear". It can turn its feet backwards to run easily in either direction along branches or up and down trunks. It also has a prehensile (gripping) tail that it uses much like another arm.
The most unusual animal was the Patagonian mara. Its head resembles a large hare with long ears. Its body resembles a small deer. Its rear legs resemble those of a kangaroo but it does not hop. It is well adapted for running because its long, powerful hind limbs end in three digits, each with a hoof-like claw. The front limbs are shorter, with four sharp claws that help them dig burrows. It looks like something designed by a committee.
While we were at the Museum my camera battery died. Janie Cummings took several photos for me with her smart phone and emailed them to me. I was ticked off at myself for not making sure that the camera battery was completely charged before the outing. My smart phone needed a new battery, which I had ordered but which had not yet arrived, so that option didn’t exist. I also took a few shots with my flip phone.
During happy hour this afternoon I won a game of Bingo. The prize was a $25 Shell Oil gift card -- much more useful than a gewgaw of some sort. I don’t need to cram anymore stuff inside my tiny home.
STATS Route: I-35 S => TX 46 W => TX 16 N Total Miles Driven: 119 Weather Conditions: Hot and dry Road Conditions: Mostly good. Several sections of construction on highway 46
RV Park: Skyline Ranch RV Park [www.skylineranchrvpark.com] Park Conditions: Large level sites, free Wi-Fi, nice clubhouse