Monday, February 28, 2022

The Ukrainian Battle and How We Can Help

Hi this is Sue from Solid Rock Minnesota. In our weekly podcast, we have many people listening from overseas. This includes Ukraine and some of the neighboring countries and yes even Russia.

We have been following the fight and battle going on in Ukraine with the invasion of Vladimir Putin and his troops. To our friends in Ukraine, please know you are in our thoughts and prayers for your safety and an end to this invasion of your country. May God bless you and keep you safe as you fight, also may there be help for the countries neighboring you and taking in refugees fleeing Ukraine. And lastly, please remember those Russians who are protesting their dictator’s actions. That is a brave act  in a country such as Russia. May they continue to show us all that they are in solidarity with the rest of the world and keep them from arrest and punishment and death from Putin.

Many of us are looking for ways to help Ukraine and there are many organizations that are giving financial assistance to Ukraine. You can find a multitude of places such as the International Rescue Committee. Their online site is: 

Thanks everyone for being a part of the Solid Rock Minnesota family and continuing to listen to our podcast around the world. Ukraine, we are with you.

Many Blessings,

Sue and Dave (my Best Half)

Sunday, February 27, 2022

Monday Morning Music Texas Style

While down in El Paso with the grandkids, I had the chance to do a little Monday Morning Music with the oldest grand-daughter. While everyone was outside the camper, with music playing and kids laughing and adults chatting, we sat down and recorded a couple Texas/ Southwest songs. They are one time takes, and the first time the grand-daughter had ever heard them and sang them. She has the ability to pick up the song and just sing it. It is always fun to see and hear her love of music. She has kept up her singing and while in Texas is part of the worship team at the church they go to. The church has seen her love of music and got her in touch with another church member who does voice lessons. She is ecstatic to learn. And I am thrilled that she still wants to sing with her old granny’s off key attempts at music. 

Here are the two classic songs we recorded while together in the warm sunshine and blowing winds of El Paso. The first one is “Pancho and Lefty” and the second is “Seven Spanish Angels”.

To listen to the songs, go to our website and scroll down to today’s podcast.

Pancho and Lefty by Townes Van Zandt

Living on the road my friend

Was gonna keep you free and clean

And now you wear your skin like iron

And your breath as hard as kerosene

Weren't your mama's only boy

But her favorite one it seems

She began to cry when you said goodbye

And sank into your dreams

Pancho was a bandit boy

His horse was fast as polished steel

He wore his gun outside his pants

For all the honest world to feel

Pancho met his match you know

On the deserts down in Mexico

Nobody heard his dying words

Ah but that's the way it goes

All the Federales say

They could have had him any day

They only let him slip away

Out of kindness, I suppose

Lefty, he can't sing the blues

All night long like he used to

The dust that Pancho bit down south

Ended up in Lefty's mouth

The day they laid poor Pancho low

Lefty split for Ohio

Where he got the bread to go

There ain't nobody knows

All the Federales say

They could have had him any day

We only let him slip away

Out of kindness, I suppose

The poets tell how Pancho fell

And Lefty's living in cheap hotels

The desert's quiet, Cleveland's cold

And so the story ends we're told

Pancho needs your prayers it's true

But save a few for Lefty too

He only did what he had to do

And now he's growing old

All the Federales say

We could have had him any day

We only let him go so long

Out of kindness, I suppose

A few gray Federales say

We could have had him any day

We only let him go so long

Out of kindness, I suppose

Seven Spanish Angels by E. Setser / T. Seals

He looked down into her brown eyes

And said "Say a prayer for me"

She threw her arms around him

Whispered "God will keep us free"

They could hear the riders comin'

He said "This is my last fight

If they take me back to Texas

They won't take me back alive"

There were seven Spanish Angels

At the Altar of the Sun

They were prayin' for the lovers

In the Valley of the Gun

When the battle stopped and the smoke cleared

There was thunder from the throne

And seven Spanish Angels

Took another angel home

She reached down and picked the gun up

That lay smokin' in his hand

She said, "Father please forgive me

I can't make it without my man"

And she knew the gun was empty

And she knew she couldn't win

But her final prayer was answered

When the rifles fired again

There were seven Spanish Angels

At the Altar of the Sun

They were prayin' for the lovers

In the Valley of the Gun

When the battle stopped and the smoke cleared

There was thunder from the throne

And seven Spanish Angels

Took another angel home

There were seven Spanish Angels

At the Altar of the Sun

They were prayin' for the lovers

In the Valley of the Gun

When the battle stopped and the smoke cleared

There was thunder from the throne

And seven Spanish Angels

Took another angel home

Sunday, February 20, 2022

Happy Trails Thru Kansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Texas

 Well we made it through Iowa in a sleeting slippery mess on the roads. Thinking we were finally on clear dry roads in Kansas we were able to pick up the speeds to 55-60 mph.Only to be knocked around by 20-30 mph winds blowing us sideways down the road. All the way through Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas we were blown around like a red and white bobber on a Minnesota lake fishing. For the driver it was exhausting gripping the wheel and fighting the winds. For this passenger it was holding my breath at times and closing my eyes. It was really scary.

Many people often times describe Kansas as a boring state to go through. And I partially have to agree, it did seem like we were in Kansas forever. There are a lot of windmills sprawled out over the prairie and many grain elevators in each small town we passed through. But driving endless miles through the state I began to see so much more. There were so many vacated small houses, or shacks dotted all over the countryside. Most looked like they were built in the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s and at some point whoever lived there just walked away and left their homestead as it was back then. As I watched the empty homesteads pass by us,one after another, I began to wonder what the story was behind each place we passed. 

I began to imagine a young family coming out West to start a ranch or farming, only to be defeated by blowing winds eroding their soil, or illness happening, or some other tragedy in life. Or as my Best Half reasoned, “Maybe the couple farmed it for many years and grew old and the kids promised to keep the farm going and walked away, leaving it to weather away. Together we drove down the roads and talked about some of the houses we saw, imagining the stories behind them.

After a blow out on one of the new trailer tires we wound up stranded in Kansas waiting to get help getting the spare tire on. Our jack couldn’t get the trailer up high enough to put the spare on.So AAA was called as it was getting late and dark and cold and we didn’t have anywhere planned to stay the night. We had planned on getting a bit farther South before stopping. But once we got the tire on and started down the road it was late and dark so we spent the first night at a rest area. Having no electricity hook-up, we had no heat. The temp got down to 19 overnight. Luckily I had packed the winter sleeping bags that are good down to zero. We both jumped into our bags and covered our heads with just the tips of our noses open for air. Zoe, our yellow Lab, managed to make a “den” with the blankets that draped over the end of the bed. Max didn’t have quite the fortune of the heat Zoe discovered. By morning, when I woke up, I started to snuggle up to my Best Half because I was cold, and realized it was Max, the Labradoodle. He broke all rules and had jumped up between us and burrowed in to get warm. 

The next morning we hopped in Big Eddie and down the road we went to get to a warmer spot. By afternoon we hit temps in the 50’s…a 75 degree difference than when we had left home! It actually was beginning to feel hot. We got the stares from the local people when we were in our shirtsleeves and me in my flip flops and the locals in winter gear. Many asked if we were from Minnesota after talking with us. Not sure if it was the Minnesota accent or the fact we weren’t all decked out in winter attire that gave us away.

Our last night before getting to El Paso, we stayed in Roswell, New Mexico. We woke up the next morning having not been abducted by aliens, so we decided to go into the town of Roswell and go to the UFO Museum. This was a great place to learn the history of the alien visit to Roswell and other alien encounters around the world. Whether you believe it or not it was really interesting to see. The other really great thing about the Museum was it was very dog friendly so Max and Zoe walked through with us and had their own opinions on aliens after seeing the life-like figures. 

After Roswell, we followed the GPS. As we were leaving Roswell, we were going to stop for gas, but thought we would stop on the outskirts of Roswell before heading for the mountain pass and down into El Paso. So we turned onto Sagebrush road and that was the last person, building or animal we saw for the next 34 miles. Pretty soon the gas gauge on Big Eddie was warning us we had 50 miles left in the tank. There was absolutely nothing in sight and the nearest town was 30 miles away. We didn’t know if they had a gas station there. Talk about waiting for the last possible gallon. We came into a little resort town of MayHill New Mexico and found the one and only gas station, with the price to match it not having any competition. After filling the tank at almost $100, we were back on the road, a little wiser at the distance between towns.

Up and over the mountains we went into White Sands National Park to take a peak at what that was all about. It was an area covered with white sand for miles and miles while everywhere out is dessert. As we drove through I had a sense of being back in snow covered Minnesota. They plow the blowing white sand and it looks just like after a Minnesota blizzard. Only it was 65 degrees. But it got me feeling like we were heading the wrong way, so we did a quick drive through and headed down to El Paso to meet up with the son and family. What fun it has been hanging with the 6 grandkids and their parents. The RV park where they have been staying since last September was so nice and accommodating. I want to give a big shout out to Mission RV park in El Paso. It is in the Eastern part of El Paso, I think. If ever in El Paso and needing a place to stay, Mission RV Park is great. They gave us the site right behind the kids! We are neighbors once again with them. It has been fun with the grandkids seeing our camper door open and jogging over to have breakfast or sit and visit. Oh how I have missed them since they left last September, but the next week or so I will be living my best days ever, here in the warm sunshine and blue skies of El Paso with some of the family. Until We are back on the road again, take care.

Sunday, February 13, 2022

All My Bags are Packed, I'm Ready to Go!

As the old John Denver song says…”All my bags are packed, I’m ready to go”.

We are FINALLY on the road and heading South! After spending the past week with freezing cold temps, we got Big Eddie and the C.O.W. hitched up together, and  got them both packed with a few essentials. You know things like ebikes, a guitar, a ukulele, and a  strum stick. And of course the instantpot/airfryer and all the winter gear and clothing to get us to the point of “South enough” to pull out the Summer gear.

This is a totally new journey for us. We are now traveling retirement style. We planned to leave on a Saturday, but if we didn’t get it all packed and stuff done to be ready, well there was always Sunday. We could get up at 4 am or 8 am and hit the road. Or even leave at noon. It is so weird to be able to time our vacations on our schedule these days. It is definitely going to take some getting used to. 

After final checks of Big Eddie and the C.O.W. and a final sweep of the living room where all the stuff had been accumulating the past few weeks to pack up we were ready to go. Everything loaded and secured:check, toilet is not running:check, security cameras on:check, neighbors around us notified:check, purse in Big Eddie…ope still on kitchen table. Ok now we were on our way.

After driving a few hours driving and heading towards the Iowa border, I dug out my phone and started looking for things we will actually be able to stop and see and look at on the way to Texas. There have been so many things we have had to drive by in the past years, planning to someday stop and look at. But we have always had to get from home to our destination as fast as we could, driving well into the late night, just so we would have more time to spend at the destination. And then we would spend our brief time and drive like we were in the Indy 500 to get home in time to get back to work. This is definitely a test in being truly retired. We have all the time we want from leaving home until we are back again. A totally new and a little bit weird experience. It is definitely going to take some practice on our part. 

I have to say I am not the most relaxed rider when driving 100’s of miles like we used to in the past, so I am looking forward to stops along the way to and from the destination point. I’m just wondering how many stops my Best Half will allow before realizing we aren't making much progress on the journey. I’m thinking every 150-250 miles will be a good time to stop and stretch and gas up and hopefully take a minute to sightsee something in the area. And as we get more comfortable with the pace maybe I can throw some extra stops in between the planned stops. If you haven't realized by now, I am a person who isn’t into long drives. I like to get out and walk around or I get pretty restless. I find myself rearranging my legs 50 times a minute, or looking at my cell phone for anything to  occupy my time. I know for me it is going to take some time to get into the retirement traveling  mode just as much as my Best Half.

For now 3-4 hours into our trip, I have the radio playing, my cell phone out looking up stuff and watching the Iowa scenery of fields, meat packing plants and the ever present smell of hog farms. It is always so much fun to watch the landscape and towns change with every passing mile we go. And to watch the thermometer climb as we head South. Look out Texas here we come!

Sunday, February 6, 2022

Enough Already, We Are Heading South!

Several months ago, we made the decision we were going to try out retirement this  winter by traveling and heading South to Texas to see our son and family. So basically, I have been  watching the calendar daily as the days are getting closer to leaving. The plan is to leave and take several days to get to El Paso, stay a week or so, and then slowly head along the border and up around the Gulf to Louisiana, take a left and go back home. And hope that by about the time we are heading home, Spring will be close to coming to Minnesota. At least maybe only another 60-90 days of winter when we get back.

We have never done a Winter vacation before, so the prepping has been a little different with packing and readying the C.O.W. (or our camper. on. wheels. as we call it). 
Everything was hauled out and the lines were all winterized last October before the cold weather set in. Stuff was put in to keep any mice from taking up residence in the C.O.W. and it was parked along the driveway in order to get to it and dig it out when we were ready to hitch it up and take off in the winter. It is somewhat buried in the snow right now and it will take a little digging to get it out and on the driveway. But unless we get any major snow, we should get it out of the parked spot pretty easily. 

I have started a list of what we need to pack, because even with a list of supplies, I know we will forget a list of things that were absolutely needed for the trip. And my idea of vacation is to not spend any time in any stores shopping. Unless maybe a yarn store or a kayak store. I could go in those stores and still feel like I was on vacation.

As for the packing list, it consists of packing clothes for winter and summer wear, hiking boots and flip flops, red buffalo plaid flannel shirts and t-shirts, jeans and shorts. Since we will be in weather with a 60-80 degrees range difference, we have to pack for all seasons. Along with the winter/summer clothing, I will be packing even the winter jackets/hats and mittens. And sleeping bags for -0 weather will possibly be needed, so they will also  be packed.

Traveling with the 2 dogs, is a whole other packing adventure that will happen. Collars, ID tags, leashes, brushes, long ropes, food, and food dishes and water dishes will be in a bin. Traveling with Zoe and Max is not a hardship, but they do take up about 200 lbs. of space in the back of the vehicle, so much planning on how to pack Big Eddie, the Expedition, plays into the prepping for vacation.

Along with putting the dogs in the back of the Expedition, we are hauling our E-bikes we got last Summer. It’ll be the first time hauling them and trying to figure out a safe theft-proof place was a bit of a challenge. While they could be on the back of the C.O.W. on a bike rack, it seemed a little iffy on the security when we would be parked somewhere. Even with strong locks, they still can be cut and stolen. So the plan is to fold them in half, put them in totes and hoist them into Big Eddie’s cargo area behind the dogs. Not as easy to see and hopefully more secure. 

While the plan is to not eat out a ton, we will do some restaurants or carry out, but otherwise we will plan to cook on a grill outside the C.O.W. under the awning in the open. We have a gas line that will hook into the camp stove from the big propane tank. But in case of rain or weather of some sort, the new Instantpot is getting packed for indoor cooking. Several already cooked meals have been prepped and frozen to put in the freezer for reheating along the way down. 

We right now have a pile of things to remember to bring with us sitting by the front door in the living room and it is starting to overflow a bit. It is stuff that will be brought out to the C.O.W. when it is pulled up closer to the house. Right now it is parked about ½ block from the house down the driveway. After a few falls on the ice this winter, I will just have a cluttered living room rather than do the banana peel slip as I try to walk like a penguin down the driveway.

The other thing that I always pack when going on longer trips, besides the rabies shots for the dogs…the title to Big Eddie and the C.O.W. Yep, I have done that the past 10 years of traveling in case, just in case, they let us down along the way. I always have the vision of being stuck in some town with a blown engine or broken trailer axle or something unfixable. I guess the titles in hand give me some comfort knowing we could trade in a vehicle and keep going. So for me it is just probably an unnecessary thing to do, but it brings me a bit of comfort knowing we may not have to be stranded as our vehicles are older.

The weather continues to be cold here in the North, so the thought of making the lists and starting to pack to head South for a few weeks is ever so exciting and a little overwhelming. I am just hoping we can not be so overpacked that we are cramped and constantly having to rearrange stuff so we fit in the camper or vehicle. All the while watching the two dogs sprawled out in their areas resting in total warmth and comfort. But right now, I’m just counting the days and climbing over the pile of stuff near the front door. Can’t wait until we are headed down the dirt road to the highway and pointing South!