Thursday, December 30, 2004


I can't help myself.

We keep having sunsets. I keep taking pictures.


Rags the cat escaped again. Here is a picture of him leaving.


Annie's new look. We tried a groomer in Port Aransas and she mistook Annie
for a cocker spaniel and cut off her moustache.

It too will grow back.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004


Okay. Let's recap:

least grebe
pied billed grebe
white pelican
brown pelican
double crested cormorant
neotropic cormorant
great blue heron
great egret
snowy egret
little blue heron
tricolored heron
reddish egret
black crowned night heron
white ibis
roseate spoonbill
black bellied whistling duck
ross's goose
canada goose
mottled duck
northern pintail
blue winged teal
northern shoveler
lesser scaup
common goldeneye
ruddy duck
black vulture
turkey vulture
northern harrier
coopers hawk
red tailed hawk
crested caracara
american kestrel
common moorhen
american coot
sandhill crane
black bellied plover
piping plover
spotted sandpiper
long billed curlew
marbled godwit
ruddy turnstone
common snipe
laughing gull
ring billed gull
royal tern
forster's tern
rock dove
white winged dove
mourning dove
inca dove
greater roadrunner
belted kingfisher
ladder backed woodpecker
eastern phoebe
american crow
carolina chickadee
tufted titmouse
carolina wren
ruby crowned kinglet
american robin
gray catbird
northern mockingbird
loggerhead shrike
european starling
orange crowned warbler
yellow rumped warbler
northern cardinal
savannah sparrow
red winged blackbird
eastern meadowlark
brewers blackbird
great tailed grackle
common grackle
american goldfinch
house sparrow

We haven't done any serious birding yet. These are just the usual suspects
we've stumbled into. We going to look for something more exotic when we
move a little farther south down into the "Rio Grande Valley". It's funny.
It's called the Rio Grande Valley, when there isn't a mountain for miles.
It's a long drawn out coastal plain for a hundred miles inland from the
gulf. But if there were a valley, it would be there along the Rio Grande.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004


We made a trip over to Goose Island State Park on the weekend. It's twenty
miles north of here.

They have two campgrounds there, one right out on the water on the bay, and
one in the oak forest. This is the one in the oak forest.

We love goose island and we always stay there, but I don't think we'll
actually stay there this year. We can't seem to leave the spot we're in.


Images from the little free ferry ride, back when it was cold and rainy. We
took our pictures through the windshield.


The site here at Gulf Waters. Nice and wide.


Have you ever wondered if you could put a screened-in back porch on your


I see a shadow hanging like a barracuda at the edge of the weed cover in the
pond out front. It could be an eighteen-inch largemouth bass. It's not in
a good spot for a spinner bait. Too weedy. I could drop a popper right in
front of his nose with my flyrod, though. If I had my flyrod.
Unfortunately, we brought spinning gear for the ocean and left the fly
fishing gear in Colorado because we wouldn't need it again until spring.
Guess he'll have to remain a hanging shadow.


Judy got good birding binoculars for Christmas.

I got a new camera. 12x optical zoom with digital stabilizing. No excuse
for bad pictures now. It is such a cool camera, it can even take a picture
of itself. Here it is...



Back to work, but not a bad place to work. Warmer still. Barefoot.

Know how, when you eat Mexican food out, and they put that tray of chips and
a dish of salsa in front of you, and you start dipping and eating, and your
mouth starts burning? And then, to stop the burning, you can stop and wait,
or chew on some ice chips, or you can take another bite of the stuff that
made your mouth burn in the first place, and it feels better momentarily,
until it starts to burn again? You can stop eating and wait for the burning
to stop, or you can eat some more, but the longer you eat it the longer it
takes to stop burning. You're pretty much stuck eating chips like crazy
until your food arrives. Why do you suppose that is? Why is it that the
stuff that made your mouth burn in the first place is the stuff you can put
in it for relief?

We had Mexican last night.


Here is our empty boring beach.

Sunday, December 26, 2004


Rags beat up a dog today. Some neighbors wanted to come by and meet our
mellow cat. They brought their miniature dachshund. He got a little pushy
with Rags, and suddenly Rags was slapping him about a hundred times a
second. The dog started screaming, but Rags didn't stop. He just kept
slapping him. He didn't stop until Judy went over and picked him up. No
blood. The claws never came out. The dog got picked up too, but he never
quit shaking the rest of the time he was here.

We may have a problem with Judy's blood pressure. It's high enough to
medicate when we're in Colorado. She keeps it around 120 over 80. We find
her blood pressure seems to be related to altitude. Here we are at sea
level and it's 86 over 50. I think that measurement reflects "just barely"
on the "are you alive or not" chart. We may cut back on the medication a
little while we're here.

We tried out the new version of Judy's copilot navigator system on the
laptop this trip. Big improvement. A 3-D view of the road ahead. Much
better perspective. Improved routing through cities as well. It's good fun
to have along.

I have a follow-up report on fishing rods and waders. Remember at the end
of the summer, I finished with two thirds of a really nice fly rod, and
gore-tex waders with a leak in one leg? I wrote letters for each. We boxed
up each wounded fishing necessity, enclosed letters begging for mercy, and
shipped them back to their respective manufacturers. Results: Before we
left on this trip, we received in the mail, a brand new pair of gore-tex
waders from Remington, and a brand new three-piece four-weight flyrod from
Scott. Fantastic. My fishing arsenal is restored, ready for next summer.

It was time to upgrade our cellphones before this trip, so we did. Loaded
the new software, plugged the phone into the laptop, and tried the new
cellphone internet hookup. It worked first try. This will make a good
backup connection for when we don't have WiFi, and until we get a data dish,
as long as we're within range of a cellphone tower. This internet connect
stuff is working better all the time.

Better weather today. Calm. Sunny. Good run on the beach. Didn't do
anything else. Oh yeah. Drank some coffee. Watched some birds. Watched
some football. Took a couple walks. Don't know where the day went.

Happy Sunday.


Thank you all for your contributions to the "name the lakeside road sign"
effort. The contest was won early and convincingly by brother Tom with:

Don't drive dunk!

Thank you brother Tom.

Saturday, December 25, 2004


I love the "aftermath" photo.

-----Original Message-----
From: Becky Alexander Sent: Saturday, December 25, 2004 4:41 PM
To: Steve Taylor
Subject: Christmas 4

Here is the aftermath in the living room, along with Taylor and her new best friend Tigerfur.


The happy family at Becky's house.

-----Original Message-----
From: Becky AlexanderSent: Saturday, December 25, 2004 4:40 PM
To: Steve Taylor
Subject: Christmas 1

Here are the first Christmas pictures.

Tony and Taylor made Gingerbread houses yesterday. I need to get a
picture of Taylor with her finished product. Tony was proud of his.

The other picture is of our hyper kids getting ready for bed last
night. Amazingly, they were all passed out by 10:00.


Merry Christmas everyone.

Christmas Eve. Clouds. Wind. Light rain. Thunderstorm. Heavy rain. Ice
pellets. Then snow. Real snow! We're here for the first white Christmas
ever recorded in South Texas. Up to six inches accumulation. Bridges
closed. Roads impassable. The local news channels are going bonkers. What

A beautiful warm sunny Christmas day. Wandered the beach. Had dinner with
fifty other motorhomers, a dinner sponsored by the RV park we're in.

Back to our house to watch football.

Conversations with the kids, and an exchange of Christmas pictures.

Merry Christmas everyone, from the beach.

Thursday, December 23, 2004


Sometimes it's not easy to find Annie.


Sometimes she's hard to miss.



We've finished the trip south. We're settled into Gulf Waters RV Park for a
week. It's located on Mustang Island, north of Padre Island, and slightly
south of the town of Port Aransas. We're just across the dunes from the
gulf. We arrived at 75 degrees. Latitude 28.

Here is their web site if you want to check it out.
<>. We're staying in site 444. Parked right on a
pond with a resident pair of coot, a pied billed grebe, a heron, an egret, a
lesser scaup. Coach Connect WiFi. We stayed here last year too. We came
back on purpose.


The weather changes. It got cold and blustery. It will be warm again in a
few days. Even when we're cold, we're forty degrees warmer than Denver.
Jamie said it was one degree there today.

Parked at the Port Aransas waterfront park in the Jeep. Watching the ship
canal. Porpoises in the bow wakes of freighters. Pelicans lifting off at
the last moment to let the car ferries pass, then circling around behind to
clean up whatever goodies are stirred to the surface. Gulls. Egrets and
herons wading the shallows. A lighthouse. The calm water of the marina.
Fresh seafood. Sea breeze. A jetty. A beach nearby.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004



Heavy traffic from south of Denton, through Waco, Austin, and San Antonio.
Not the roads we usually drive. Too crowded.

We hear we missed a windstorm. We drove through some wind today, but not
the 100mph wind they had back in Colorado.

Stopped at a park just south of San Antonio. What a difference a latitude
makes. We're out of the thirties and have dropped to latitude 29. Single
digit temperatures to the north... some with minus signs in front of them.
Another warm day for us. We're being careful not to sunburn.

This park is called River Bend because it sits on a bend in the San Antonio
River. Nice big horseshoe with grass and trees in the middle. All the
facilities are well above the water level. It's a good thing they are well
above the water level because the water level changes now and then. It
changed recently. The swimming pool is fifty feet above the level of the
river. The swimming pool is now empty except for the mud left in it. The
park guy says this happens every year now. It's the same problem they have
on the Mississippi. The more they alter the watershed and control the
floods upstream, the worse the floods get downstream. You can let a river
flood a little bit all over or you can stop the flooding upstream and make
it twice as bad downstream. The more concrete they pour in San Antonio, the
more water is channeled to the river instead of soaking into the ground, the
more the river floods at River Bend.

The river has receded. The place is back to normal, except for the muddy
swimming pool. The broad park of grass and trees down low has been
refreshed with another layer of fertile silt.

We hear Conner has moved on from "the turtle", and has mastered the

Know how kids unintentionally turn themselves in when they're doing
something wrong? When they start talking, they'll announce "no" "no", as
they're playing with something they shouldn't be playing with? Alex says
"bye-bye". When Matt and Kari hear Alex saying "bye-bye" from the other
room, they know it's time to go take something away from him.

Brother Bill asked if the RV sleeping sickness still strikes even when we're
full timing. It does and it doesn't. We do sleep more since we moved into
the motorhome. We get our eight or nine hours. By doing that, we've
eliminated the catch-up factor. We no longer collapse and sleep for twelve
hours on trips. We just go to bed early and get our eight or nine.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004


Flat Stanley takes a ride.


This one needs a caption.

It cries out for a clever caption.


My birthday sunset.


The campground at Lake Whitney.

Monday, December 20, 2004



On the road dark and early. South on Interstate 135, then Interstate 35
through Wichita and into Oklahoma. South through Oklahoma City, Ardmore,
and "boom", we popped out the other side. That was fast. So much for
Oklahoma. Another four hundred fifty mile day.

Now we're in Texas. We're just north of Denton, which is just north of
Dallas. We're in a state park in an oak forest by a lake. Looks like it
might be birdy tomorrow morning, so I hung out a bird feeder and salted the
empty camp sites on either side. I'll sleep with my binoculars nearby so I
can look out if I hear any birds at dawn. I'm going to try really hard not
to wake Judy up to leave before dawn tomorrow. I'll wait for the birds to
wake us up. Honest. I promise.

It was a big raptor day. Must have seen fifty of them. Saw some black

We stopped at a Flying J for lunch, and to check out the internet. Flying J
truck stops advertise that they are WiFi hotspots. The internet hookup
worked! It took about five seconds to connect. That was handy. The
downside, however, is that Flying J truck stops tend to be really crowded.
This one was a zoo.

We have an additional rider on this trip. Flat Stanley. He is a little
cutout figure, colored with crayon by Grandson Tony. Flat Stanley travels.
He fits well in envelopes. Tony has sent several of them out in the mail.
They return with notes about where they have been. Tony keeps track of them
with pins in a map on the wall. Our Flat Stanley is taped to the inside of
the window on Judy's side of the motorhome. He will report back to Tony in
about three months.

We've had some cold weather in Colorado already this year. We have had low
temperatures near zero. We're looking for more fahrenheits than that. We
found Fifty-eight of them the first day out. We did better than that today.
We found sixty-five. We went south. Lower elevation, less latitude, and
more fahrenheit. Last summer, at the north entrance to Yellowstone National
Park, we found ourselves at the 45th parallel, exactly the half-way point
between the equator and the north pole. What would it take to get halfway
between the equator and the halfway point to the north pole? Maybe we can
find that latitude.

We drove through the Arbuckle mountains in Oklahoma. Yes, they call them
mountains in Oklahoma. They are, after all, several hundred feet high.
Beautiful wooded rolling hills. They even have a waterfall. The highest
waterfall in Oklahoma. Seventy feet. It is more impressive than Florida's
falling waters. At least you don't have to look down into a hole to see it

Oklahoma has an interesting advertising campaign going. One sign touted
something, then claimed: "another reason we're better than Texas". How
strange is that when your self-identity campaign starts off with a
comparison to another state? Sound little defensive? Wait! I get it.
Think about all the political ad writers out of work in between elections.
They have to do something. The state campaign equivalent to negative
advertising. Don't say something about your state. Say something about
some other state and everyone will vote for you.



Up after dawn. Happy birthday to me. We waited until the birds started
moving before we did. Dark eyed juncos, tufted titmice, cardinals, a
mourning dove, Carolina chickadees, a ladder back woodpecker, and

We didn't drive very far today. We drove from Denton down through Fort
Worth, and stopped at Lake Whitney, northwest of Waco. More oak forests on
rolling hills. And a lake. And campgrounds. Seven of them. Seven
campgrounds, hundreds of campsites, and five of them are occupied. Each
camper is in a different campground. No neighbors but the lake. Guess
we're off-season. Love this campsite. And this weather. We have warm
weather here, but there is a single digit cold air mass north of us, pushing
south. We'd better keep moving.

Got an extended Carolina Wren serenade. Saw a roadrunner, and an armadillo,
and some deer.

We drove over more concrete joiners on the freeway. The old cement road
that didn't have the joiners was rough. The section with the joiners was
smooth. I still don't know how that works. The joiners can't just pull
sections together that have come apart. If it closes some gaps, it would
just exaggerate others. C'mon. Can't someone tell me how that works?
Help. I'm stuck on this one.

Two years ago, on this trip, Judy and I were talking about what to do about
work and motorhoming. How were we going to get enough time in the motorhome
if I had to spend all that time working? We dreamed up the mobile office so
we could do both. Last year, we were talking about how to make the mobile
office work. How could we get enough remote clients so we could spend even
more time in the motorhome? We took care of that. We moved into the
motorhome full-time. Now we're wondering: What will we talk about this

We stopped early to watch football. I don't know why. Football is such a
stupid game. I hate football.

Annie went after a pack of raccoons tonight. Judy opened the door and Annie
bolted out into the dark. No leash. No control. Just Annie and the
raccoons... and Judy. Judy went right out the door into the darkness after
her. Those raccoons aren't going to eat our puppy without getting past Judy
first. There they are. Three of them in a pack, snarling and bristling,
just waiting to pounce on our poor little puppy. And our poor little puppy,
snarling and bristling to get at those perky raccoons. Now our Annie can't
go out to go potty without close supervision.

Finished my birthday by the lake with steak and lobster on the grill.


The Kansas campground.


... sleeps.


From: Steve Taylor []
Sent: Monday, December 20, 2004 7:41 PM
To: Bill Taylor (E-mail); David Taylor (E-mail); Tom Taylor (E-mail)
Subject: family

Got Judy and Alex playing before we left.

Saturday, December 18, 2004


Friday. Time to go.

Texas. They've got big long roads out there.

Straight east out of Colorado. Interstate 70. Through Watkins, Bennett,
Strasburg. Byers, Deer Trail, Limon. Genoa, Flagler, Seibert, Stratton,
Bethune, Burlington, and out of Colorado. Into Kansas and through... and
through... Not much to go through in western Kansas. Kanorado at the
border, then Oakley, WaKeeney, Hays, and suddenly, here we are in Salina.
Salina is as far as we have to go east before we turn south. 450 miles into
the day. A good place to spend the night. A little RV park on a pond.
It's all downhill from here. South is downhill, isn't it?

We did leave at the crack of dawn this trip. Got up, unhooked, closed up,
put some drugs in the cat, and left in the dark. Made it through Denver
before any significant rush, and rushed right into a painful sunrise.
Again. It's really hard to drive east on the plains without encountering
some discomfort. We were hoping for a cloudy morning, but all we got were
just enough thin clouds on the eastern horizon to make a gorgeous sunrise.

Judy said I should include something about what time I woke her up this
morning, so I will. I woke up at five o'clock, ready to get up and go. I
didn't. I didn't say anything or talk to Judy at all, for an hour. I
waited an entire hour until I woke her up. See how nice I was to her?

Family News: Becky decided her optometrist is a quack and she told her so.
The optometrist suggested Becky get bifocals. That means she thinks our
daughter is old enough to require bifocals. I don't think so! This is just
not possible. We agree with Becky. The optometrist is a quack. As Becky
was leaving, she saw what had been written on her chart. "Patient resistant
to bifocals". She is a master of understatement as well as an optometrist.
Becky got her new glasses before we left. New glasses without bifocals.

Major milestone: Conner rolled over from his front to his back. He has
mastered "the turtle". He has teeth.

Alex learned to climb out of his crib. The first clue for Matt and Kari was
the loud "clunk" from upstairs. On the same day, Alex also decided he
should descend stairs standing up and facing forward, just like the big
people do. Good luck.

My knee and I are still at odds. We have settled into a routine. It's not
exactly a peaceful coexistence. It's more like an uneasy truce. I run a
little. I walk a little. It hurts a little. Judy said the funniest thing.
She thinks if I just stop exercising entirely for a while, the knee might
get better. Now why would she say a thing like that?

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Dakota Ridge

Wow! That was exciting!

We had a wind storm. The wind blew all night.

We weigh 25,000 pounds. We're parked on a cement slab. Our hydraulic jacks
are down. But it felt like we were sleeping on a boat.... A boat that was
underway. It bounced us all over the place.

Some of the expensive motorhomes have weather stations on them. When they
stop, they raise the weather stations and get all the current readings.
There are a couple of those motorhomes here in the park at Dakota Ridge.
They both agree. We had 80 mph winds overnight Thursday night.

Lots of wind damage around the next morning, tanks blown over, flags
missing, bird feeders gone, awnings blown off, but we rode it out just fine,
and the next morning, Judy found both our rugs and the Christmas wreath off
the front of the Bounder.

That was exciting.

Friday, December 3, 2004

Dakota Ridge

From: Steve Taylor []
Sent: Friday, December 03, 2004 11:01 PM
To: Bill Taylor (E-mail); David Taylor (E-mail); Tom Taylor (E-mail)
Subject: dakota ridge

The morning view out the side window now. It evolves (or devolves).

Thursday, December 2, 2004

Dakota Ridge

We did it! We figured out the water. The freezing.

It froze the first night at three degrees. The next day, Judy stuffed
insulation around the hoses leading out of the utility cabinet. The water
froze the next night. Judy bought a drop light, plugged it in, and hung it
in the utility cabinet all night, turned toward the exposed water lines to
keep them warm. It froze again. We put a remote temperature sensor in the
utility cabinet. It never got below fifty degrees.

Last night we were sitting in the living room, watching the temperature
plummet. It was down to ten degrees. The water quit working. Now, every
time this happens, we can still get water out of our freshwater tank with
the pump. We just can't get the outside water. I went out and messed with
the outside faucet. I found a button to push. The heater taped to the
all-weather faucet needed to be reset. It was never a freezing problem in
the motorhome! The water provided by the RV Park was freezing. It was
freezing before it got to us.

The water came back on within an hour. The low got down to four degrees.
This morning, the water worked. It worked! Problem solved!

Life on the road.