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Family and Birthday – Midwest Trip Part 5

The other primary reason for our trip was to celebrate Jennifer’s Dad, Otis’s, 86th birthday. Otis and Judy live in the Rio Grande Valley in the far southern tip of Texas. Since we were already out in the motorhome and it takes as much time to come all the way home and then drive to Texas; we decided to stay out and drive on down, then head home.

Our drive from Hot Springs was too long for a single day, wo we decided to overnight at Fort Sam Houston.  We had read they have a nice RV Park on the post, and it looked like a convenient on/off the interstate for us.  It worked out just fine.  We were driving in the opposite direction of the heavy traffic both arriving and departing. Thank goodness for the full hook-up!  It was over 100 degrees and we had the ACs running full blast.

Jennifer and her sister, Julie, have been visiting Otis for his birthday for quite a few years now.  Usually it is just the two of them that drop in, but this year was different.  It was an invasion of family.  Our youngest son, Matthew, and his wife, Sydney, who live in NJ, wanted to come see their Grandparents and thought this would be the perfect time. Julie’s youngest, Ryan, and his girlfriend, Hailey, live up in Houston.  When they found out about everyone coming down, they came also. It really was a fun weekend, though we missed the other members of the family.

Otis and Judy live in an active adult community with golf, swimming and more activities than anyone could ever hope to do.  It was unseasonably hot while we were there, a trend that ran throughout our trip, so most of our outdoor activities were either in the morning or water related. We spent an afternoon in the pool playing water volleyball and lots of time out on the back patio catching and shooting the breeze.

Most all of our visits involve two recurring activities. Chores and playing cards. With the two sons there we were able to knock out the chores in short order. None of them are ever too major, but it is always a big help to Otis and Judy to help them with things around the house. One of the chores was to take down, clean out and close up the Purple Martin house.  Otis and Judy really enjoy watching their birds; they routinely get 5-7 nesting pairs of martins each year.  In south Texas, Purple Martin season is late spring to early summer.  Thus, leaving the martin house vacant in the summer/fall and always ready for a cleaning.  They plug the holes to keep the sparrows and other nesting birds out and open the holes at the first sign or sound of a martin in the spring.

But it definitely was not all work.  We got in a couple games of cards each day.  Must admit, there really was not a dominate player this time.  I think almost everyone won a game of some kind. No game of cards is worth its true value without some of Judy’s homemade salsa, and we did some serious consumption.

Otis’s 86thwas a fun day.  There was no big neighborhood party like some past birthdays, his 80thwas particularly memorable.  It was principally a family affair, with some great filets on the grill, baked potatoes and grilled vegetables.  The birthday cake was one of his favorites; Judy’s homemade carrot cake.  Many of the local neighbors dropped by to wish him well and he had plenty of calls.

We had a busy, packed month of travel and seeing friends and family some of whom we have not seen nearly frequently enough. In total we visited six different states, made 8 stops, spent thirty days on the road, and drove over 5400 miles. Time well spent!

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