Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Harvey Update From My Home

I've never been so happy to see a sunrise on an August day in Texas!

All of us in this part of our Great State have really been under siege. We are completely locked in at our house. Water surrounds us. All entrances or flooded and so are all the roads leading out. 

If you'd like to see our neighborhood, here's a link showing part of it. The video doesn't do it justice, but you can see the water in most areas. The street in front of our house is one of the dry ones.


 Front yard
The water came close, but stayed outside. We were fortunate.

This morning. Our house look normal.

Weston Lakes is sort of an odd city. In 2008, the residents of this gated, golf community voted to incorporate. I'm still not sure how a city can be gated, but we are. We have no police or fire department, but we have a mayor and city council. The POA makes most decisions.  Paul and I kept our address as Fulshear. It was easier than changing all documents. The city of Fulshear is about 3 miles east of us. We're in Fort Bend County, southwest of Houston and Harris County. Katy is our largest, near city, and we drive there to shop.

The Weston Lakes personnel set up a shelter for residents at the club house. Two people had to be boated out to the hospital. We have a one story but we'd planned to go up through the attic to climb out the dormers for boat rescue if needed.  The first responders are amazing and awesome. Not enough thanks for them.

Shelters are set up in Dallas, Austin and San Antonio. The reaction from all over the country is inspirational and heartwarming. All of us are grateful for prayers and your heartfelt concern.

Grocery stores have been closed, and if they can open, people wait in line. A few are allowed inside at a time due to fire codes and not enough personnel to wait on customers

Maybe the sun will dry the creeks enough for us to go to the grocery store today or tomorrow. I find it odd what I long for in my pantry. Things like powdered item I never buy. Or Bisquick, another item I never purchase. 

Thanks to everyone who watched and prayed for all the people in Harvey's path. He isn't finished yet. He's moving on to the east. He's a mighty man, and one we will never forget.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Harvey Headed Our Way

We're getting ready for Harvey.  We've been through hurricanes before, but the thought of losing life and home is always a concern.  He should hit tonight or early in the morning.

On our Yosemite trip, we arrived at a hotel with power outages. No fun. It was exciting though. If it hadn't been late, we would have sat on the balcony and listened to the water. At least the hotel had running water.  Here in Houston, we are filling containers in case we have none, and we're freezing water to put into ice chests to save perishables.

As I write this, it's 8:00 AM, but it looks more like PM. The day grows darker and it's beginning to rain.

We have many trees in our yard. The biggest fear is one falling on the house. The pecan tree pictured is probably one hundred years old. Our area was once a pecan orchard.

Our porch sits in a triangle between three huge trees. This is a picture of the ash before we cut half of it down. We wanted to save the tree so we paid a whopping amount to have part of it removed. Our hope is that if it falls, it goes the other direction...toward the empty field next to us.

Before surgery

After surgery

It made me sad to lose part of this beautiful tree, but I don't want it falling into my kitchen either.

Hubby went to the store yesterday for supplies. Markets are out of bread, water, and soup. There's not much fruit either.  Funny, isn't it? We eat very little bread in our house, but we want it if we don't have it. Isn't that true with most things? We take for granted the basics and we miss them when they're gone. Things like water.

And A/C. Oh my! I dread the misery of Houston heat without A/C.

I was planning on blogging the finale of our Yosemite trip, but it will have to wait.  Right now, I'm gonna move porch furniture and finish making room for Harvey's visit.

Monday, August 21, 2017

California! The Adventure Continues.

Day Six, the California Adventure Continues. 

We left the Yosemite Lodge early Wednesday morning to head out to King's Canyon and Sequoia National Parks. Some of us may have been sleepy. We'd spent an unusual night due to the fire and electricity outages. At morning, we learned the Mariposa, Yosemite fire was still raging.

We felt a sense of loss and sadness for them. A controlled fire may help the Goliath trees, but an out of control one is a tragedy. 

As I write this blog today, my friend in Fresno tells me the fire is now inside the park and has burned 1600 acres. It's burning near the community of Wawona in the southern portion of the park.  She's close to the airport and hears the retardant bombers flying over her house.

On this day, July 19, we stopped at the River Park in Fresno for a "scatter" lunch stop.   We were in the River Park Mall. I don't remember what Paul and I ate, but he found a Macy's department store and bought aftershave. We were on a bear watch. One couple in our group saw one, but Paul and I missed it.

After lunch, we boarded again to go to the Grant Grove Village at King's Canyon National Park.  At the Grant Grove Village at King's Canyon National Park, we learned about the ancient, colossal trees.

We browsed in the gift shop and then headed to the General Grant Tree. 

I borrowed this picture from Wikipedia.  The General Grant tree is the largest in the park and according to Wikipedia, it's the second largest in the world. Our literature said it was the third largest. No matter whether it is the second or third, it's a whopper.

It's also the spot where we posed for a group photo.

After leaving the giants, we drove to the Wuksachi Lodge. Our dinner was included at the lodge. I didn't take pictures of the lodge, but you can see it at this link.

We had a lovely time visiting with our dinner companions. Afterward, Carole, Richard Steer and Paul and I waited in the lodge for the star gazing program. If you've read my earlier blogs, you've already read about Richard's pants, if you haven't, scroll down. He wore convertible trousers. He didn't take the top off, just the bottoms.

It grew cold as we gazed up into the dark sky, and we were far away from the lodge. Paul kept saying, "let's go." I wanted to wait for others to leave so we wouldn't be alone. The woods has bears and other varmints, plus, we might get lost. Wouldn't that have been awful?

We decided to brave it. When we rose to leave, others did as well and most of us left. We decided to follow one tall man who seemed to know where he was headed. 

Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, ocean, bridge, sky, cloud, outdoor, water and nature
Henry Piwowarek and Karen Kruger

He walked fast, but we kept up with him. I breathed a thankful prayer for his height. I really didn't want to be lost in the woods, even if Paul was with me.

 We later visited with Henry. He and his lovely companion, Karen, are from Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. They have a unique story about how they met. I'll probably tell you about it later, or maybe they'll end up as characters in a Sarah book. Their meeting is a perfect setting for Sarah.

I'll write more about our trip later. We're almost to the point of returning to Houston. Right now, I'm writing blogs for other authors. Several have offered to tell their readers about Mattie's Choice. Mattie will be here September 15! I'm excited. It's a historical novel and it begins in Oklahoma in 1925. I made up a city named Fossil Creek, and this little town is about 50 miles from Tulsa.  My new friends, Henry and Karen will recognize some of the areas.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Yosemite National Park: Day 5 FIRE ALERT!

Good morning friends,

It's been several days since I blogged about our California trip. I'd better hurry up and finish before I forget some of the details. A few of my arm chair travelers wrote to ask about the next adventure. One friend who is disabled really enjoys the travel channel. It's her way of traveling, and I think she's getting a kick out of our journey. I'm pleased to share our voyages with others who can't go. If you're able to travel, I hope these blogs will inspire you to take the same trip.

If you've read my last blog, (you can scroll down to read if you haven't. You'll be traveling backwards, but that's okay.) You'll see that we discovered a plume of smoke as we approached Yosemite. 

We arrived at the gate about 1:30 on July 18, 2017. The day was warm and the skies blue, but smoke was beginning to fill the skies.

According to the National Park Service, Yosemite covers 748,436 acres or 1,169 square miles, and of this land mass, 1,101 square miles are designated wilderness.  Goodness!  That's 94.45% of the park. Views are amazing. 

Gazing all the way to the top of the trees made me dizzy. (Never mind if hubby says I stay that way and it's not the tree's fault. Ha!) 

Giant sequoias have an amazing heritage and can live for over two thousand years! Wow! Can you imagine the stories these tree might tell? 
Picture this. One giant tree comes from a tiny cone. They are an awesome part of nature. God astonishes us, doesn't He? Would you believe fire helps these little things?

For years, Smokey the Bear tried to prevent forest fires. Scientists learned that fire actually promotes reproduction. Fancy that! Fire clears away smaller trees such as cedar. The extra space provides a place for the tiny seeds to take root.

Paul and stretch out at the base of a fallen tree. These trunks can reach over 25 feet thick. The largest tree featured in this area is the General Sherman.


Here's a picture of Paul on the path to the Sherman tree. Did you notice he bought a hat? Too late. He'd already turned red on the boat ride across Lake Tahoe. I bought one too. They make good souvenirs. Paul gave his hat to a friend when we got home. This guy has always wanted to go to Yosemite. I hope he takes the trip one of these days. By the way, I kept my hat. What does that say about me?

I couldn't get far enough away to take a picture of the entire General Sherman tree, so I borrowed a picture from Wikipedia.

 Before long, it was time to take a shuttle ride with our park ranger.  This guy was funny and informative. He also brought a spray bottle of water. You'll see it by his right foot. He passed it along to us to spray ourselves, and it helped with the heat.

Not only did we see giant trees as we rode with the ranger, we saw craggy, granite cliffs. From these picture, you can see the smoke creeping into the park.

Yosemite Falls from a distance.

After the tour with the ranger, several of us walked around, visited, and took more pictures.

My new friend, Carole Steer and I had our picture made with a smokey backdrop. The aroma was beginning to smell like we were at a giant fireplace.

We walked closer to the falls. The fire in Mariposa was getting scarier by the second. Maiposa is a small town, and Yosemite occupies Mariposa County. Mariposa means "butterfly" in Spanish. 

Look at this red sun! Tiny cinders were making my contact lenses uncomfortable.

We were supposed to meet Linda, our director, at 6:00 to go to the Yosemite View Lodge. Uh oh! We couldn't leave the park. Linda advised us to eat there and wait. The Yosemite View Lodge had no electricity, but they hoped to have it by 7:30.

Guess what? They didn't have lights by that time, but they thought they would when we arrived. We boarded the bus and sat in line to exit the park. We waited our turn for almost two hours. The officials were evacuating the town of Mariposa and the fleeing home owners had first priority. We sat on the bus and wondered if and when we would get out. (I think several of us prayed too. I know I did.)

Upon arrival at the Yosemite View Lodge, we exited the bus in total darkness. The bus headlights were all we had, that and our cell phones. 

Here's a picture of Linda Perez as she figured out our rooms and luggage. Her husband had placed a miner's headlamp in her luggage. Wasn't that awesome? I don't know if Pepe had ever been a Boy Scout or not, but he prepared Linda for something she'd never experienced before. Just think, she'd laughed with him when he put that doohickey in her luggage. You never know, do you?

Richard Steer found a penlight in his pocket. That little gadget was a godsend. So were our cell phone lights. Richard works in New York City (a block from Ground Zero) and after 9/11, he carries that pen light at all times. The next time I travel, I'm including a flash light and battery operated candles.  Can you envision all these travelers trying to find the bathroom and undress by iPhone? Yep! It was a challenge, that's for sure.

I couldn't take a picture of the lodge. Too black. But you can click on this link to see the pictures. Click on Photo Gallery and view. Yosemite View Lodge

It's too bad we arrived late at night. This rustic lodge sits above a rushing river. We had no A/C, so we opened the windows and the water lulled us to sleep. Of course, exhaustion probably helped. I liked this place. It's not a five-star hotel, but I'd like to go back and sit on the balcony with my morning coffee. We had no time for that. We were to leave at 8:00 the next morning. This was a short night, but one I'll never forget.

King's Canyon and Sequoia National Parks are next in our travels. Come back soon. We'll reminisce together. 

Now it's time to answer emails about my next book that comes out September 15, Mattie's Choice. I've got lots to do yet for the book's premier. That's one reason I'm behind in my blogging.

You can find my books on Amazon and other online book sellers. Gay N. Lewis on Amazon

Blessings until next time!

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Fire in Yosemite National Park! California, Day Five

We left Lake Tahoe after an early breakfast. Bags had to be ready at the door by 7:00 AM. Our director, Linda Perez, stressed the words, Bags At The Door. She told us about one lady on previous trip who'd hidden her luggage behind the dresser.

Thanks to Linda's word of caution, the attendants found everyone's gear where it was supposed to be. At the door. We all hopped on board the coach by 8:00 and headed to Yosemite National Park. We learned we'd be traveling over the Tioga Pass. Linda said the pass had amazing views. And wow, did they ever! Aaron, our bus driver was awesome. He navigated the winding road with expertise. Some of the views were straight down. They were real cliff hangers. At least they seemed that way to me. I confess I closed my eyes a couple of times. One slip of the wheel, and look out below! One big bus headed down. But with Aaron at the wheel, all was well. We could relax and enjoy the ride. No roller coasters here. 


We were able to pull off in a few spots for photos.

Photo by Gay Lewis

Paul and Gay at Tioga Pass

Tioga Pass experiences mass amounts of snow and closes in winter. Linda, our director, says it just recently opened! Some years it stays closed in July, but this date, July 18, we found it accessible.

Linda told us we'd eat lunch "on the fly," so we stopped at a fast food place and bought snacks. We were all eager to get to Yosemite. Of course we had no idea we were heading into a fire.

We missed that memo! There are some things you just can't predict or know. No matter the amount of planning.

You've got the whole plane to yourself. Psychic convention cancelled at the last minute.
As we drove near the Yosemite National Park, we noticed a plume of smoke in the distance ahead. I heard someone say, "I hope someone knows about that fire."


A fire had started in Mariposa, California. Mariposa is a small county seat town with a population of about 2,000. Mariposa County includes much of Yosemite National Park. We had no idea what awaited us as we spent the afternoon amidst smoke and falling cinders. The evening had unexpected twists and turns.

Have you ever had to find your luggage in total darkness? 

I learned something. I'm packing flashlights and battery operated candles for future travels.

Stay tuned! More of this adventure to come!

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Day three and Day Four in California

Omelet? Sausage? Bacon? Oatmeal? Fruit? Waffles? Cinnamon rolls? Skillet potatoes? I bet you can't eat all the goodies.

After a huge breakfast, and I mean huge, we boarded the coach to tour wine country. It's super nice to have someone pick up your luggage and place it on the bus. With tummy's full, carting those bags around would be a challenge. Glad we didn't need to do that.

This was the third day on our "Northern California's Finest Tour." Sunday, July 16 dawned with blue skies. This time we crossed the Golden Gate Bridge. The fog kept us from seeing it on the San Francisco side the day before, but this day it showed up in it's entire majestic splendor. The whole thing was visible!

Here we are. Two Texans, enjoying the cool temp. We don't have July mornings in Houston that require jackets.  Our group was a bunch of lucky, happy people to cross the famous landmark on a sunny, lovely day. We stopped for a photo stop in Sausalito, a city located on the other side.  

We arrived at Gloria Ferrer Wine Caves and Vineyards for a tour and tasting. Even though we had a designated driver, there were a few of us who refrained from the free samples.  If you want to see more pictures of this pretty vineyard, click on this link. Gloria Ferrer Wines and Vineyards

On to Lake Tahoe. We arrive at 5:00 PM at the Lake Tahoe Resort. I didn't take pictures of the resort, but here's a link to show you the placeLake Tahoe Resort

On one side of the street, you're in California. On the other, you're in Nevada. Actually if you drive a car in the middle of the street, the driver could be in Nevada and the passenger in California. Nevada has the casinos. Paul and I aren't into those, so a quiet dinner sitting outside and then an early to bed evening suited us just fine.

JULY 17, 2017

We boarded the coach for Virginia City, the trolley tour, and the historic mine tour. Here's a map of our tour. As you can see, we started in San Francisco, went to Sonoma, Lake Tahoe and Virginia City.

Virginia City has kept an antiquated look. That's smart of city planners. It makes it more fun for tourists to go back in time and imagine how people lived in the Virginia City silver mining boom. We bought a few silver trinkets here. Remember the TV show Bonanza? The Cartwright were supposed to have a huge ranch, the Ponderosa in Nevada. The fictions ranch was near Virginia City.

I didn't think I'd like Virginia City, but it was fun!

This "old" miner took us down into a silver mine. We walked down in the back of an old saloon. The saloon still sells drinks. When the miner is not giving tours, he serves as bartender. He chained the door so no one could come in while we were below in the mine. 

The main street isn't long. Hills once filled with silver surround the town.

You'll see mining hills like this one around the town.

Virginia City had brothels for the miners, but this pretty church existed too. I hope more residents went here rather than the saloons and brothels! 

The trip took us past beautiful lakes and mountains as we headed back for a boat ride on Lake Tahoe.

Arriving back at Lake Tahoe, we boarded a boat similar to this one to take us across the lake.

Pixabay Lake Tahoe

Rick and Carole Steer and Paul.

Rick handed us sunscreen lotion. He's a nice, generous, sharing guy. Paul swiped only his forehead with the stuff. He soon had one white area above his brows amidst all the red on his hairless head. Carole stole Rick's cap. She took it off for the picture. Rick and I were the only two logical people in this group of four. 

PBG Insider: Gay N. Lewis Introduces her "Sarah" series

Sarah at Christmas