Adventure with the Texas Morleys

Accounts of our experiences and adventures

2021 Limoncello

So we can all admit for many different reasons 2020 was a bad year, primarily because of a microscopic virus that does not care about how tired we are, but for many other reasons.

So we are no ready to move on. No, not because we have the result of an election, but because we have Lemons!

The harvest from our Lemon and Orange trees is looking good. The fruit is a bit smaller this year. We had a a very hot summer, and I was lazy about fertilizing the trees, but we’ll still be giving away more than a half of what we harvest.

Harvesting our lemons, Houston, Texas, November 2020

This year, our granddaughter, Evie helped with the harvest

Harvesting lemons from our tree, Houston, Texas, November 2020
Harvesting lemons from our tree, Houston, Texas, November 2020
Harvesting lemons from our tree, Houston, Texas, November 2020

About 300 Lemons picked in the first harvest. Now to the Limoncello production

Lemoncello production, Houston, Texas, November 2020

This year we are going to try 95% alcohol!

Lemoncello production, Houston, Texas, November 2020

Zest from 20 lemons for every 1.5 L of Everclear (95% grain alcohol)

Lemoncello production, Houston, Texas, November 2020

80 lemons zested, now time to add the alcohol

Lemoncello production, Houston, Texas, November 2020

We’ll now hide this away for four weeks to allow the lemon zest to infuse the alcohol. Patience!

Juicing the lemons, Houston, Texas, November 2020

But all those lemons don’t go to waste. Peeled and juiced they produce 5 litres of fresh lemon juice.

… but the Lemon tree still has loads of lemons to harvest!

… and we have not started with the Orange tree!

Hurricane Laura

In late August, we had two Hurricanes form in the Gulf of Mexico. Hurricane Laura formed first in the outer Caribbean and then Marco formed east of the Yucatan peninsular. The tracks of both Hurricanes included the possibility of hitting Houston.

Luckily, Hurricane Marco was severely diminished by strong, high altitude winds and was downgraded to a tropical depression when it crossed into Louisiana.

However Hurricane Laura raced across the Caribbean south of Hispaniola into the Gulf of Mexico, were it rapidly strengthened into a Class 4 Hurricane with winds in excess of 150 miles per hour. The projected track included a strong probability of hitting the Houston area. Coastal counties including Galveston Island were evacuated. We made sure we were prepared to shelter in place, relying on our 24KVA generator to provide power in case of an outage.

Hurricane Laura, Houston, Texas, August 2020

We avoided a terrible disaster in Houston as Hurricane Laura turned north coming ashore in Louisiana south of Lake Charles as a Class 4 Hurricane.

Though it was a powerful hurricane, Laura was very small so we ended up having no direct impact on the Houston area. The devastation and damage in eastern Louisiana was terrible.

New Tile in our Sun Room

In October 1997, we had a sunroom extension added to our house on Quiet Creek Dr. We have really enjoyed this room and believe it has kept us in the house we have lived in since 1988. After 22 years, some of the tiles broke so we decided to replace the with new tiles. We installed some natural travertine tiles form Turkey.

See all the pictures here

Living with COVID-19

I believe we shall be living with COVID-19 until and if an effective vaccination is developed. We shall then need to ensure that 70-80% of the population receives this vaccine. I do not see this happening in less than two years.

So we need to learn to live with the virus. What we can do depends very much on our personal situation, but I do believe this is primarily a health problem so we should listen to the medical profession rather than politicians, social media or opinion warriors on cable news.

The Texas Medical Association released in late June some excellent guidelines on the risks of different activities. Note that these risks assume that these activities are following the recommended guidelines for social distancing (keeping 6ft away from others) and for wearing a mask

As hot spots of outbreaks of the virus occur, I hope these guidelines can be used by our political leaders to implement restrictions on the higher risk activities. If they will not enforce restrictions, it is up to us to use our common sense and act in a socially responsible way.

Texas Independence Trail

The Texas Independence Trail is a road route that links up the locations of the major events that led up to Texas becoming independent from Mexico in 1836. I had laid out a 880 mile route that took in the most important locations from the Alamo in San Antonio to the Texas Monument on the site of the Battle of San Jacinto east of Houston. I split the route into two days with an overnight spot in Gonzales, Texas.

Planned Texas Independence Trail Ride

On the last day in June, I rode south down the west side of Houston to Brazos Bend State Park and then on to Angleton and Freeport on the coast. I then turned east to ride along the coast, visiting the beach at San Bernard, Matagordo and Palacios.

Turning north east, I rode up to Victoria, the Battlefield at Fannin and the Presidio La Bahia at Goliad.

Texas Independence Trail Ride, Goliad, Texas, June 2020

Riding north into San Antonio the temperature was 96 degF and it was very uncomfortable, especially when I was slowed by traffic. The Alamo was a disappointment as it was all border up and under renovation. I turned west through Cibolo and Seguin to Gonzalez where I spent the night. 480 miles in 9 hours.

The forecast for the first of July was even hotter so I was on the road at 6:30am. I rode north through Luling and then turned west to Lockhart, Smithville, Winchester, Round Top and Burton. From Independence I rode into Washington on the Brazos where the Texas Independence charter was signed.

As It was getting very hot, I decided to cut short this day’s ride and rode home through Chapel Hill and Bellville. 254 miles in 5 hours.

See my Texas Independence Trail Ride here

Ignoring Science

I feel one of the biggest problems we have in this country is an ignorance of science. While so many other countries have based their response to the COVID-19 pandemic on science, sometimes imperfectly, the USA Government at the Federal, State and Local level seems to have decided that Politics is more important. While I understand that sustaining the economy is important, I believe that the public health crisis takes precedence. You can recover an economy, you cannot recover dead grandparents, parents, aunts and uncles, siblings and friends.

USA COVID-19 Cases
USA Covid-19 New Positive Cases per day

This graph created from data from the COVID Tracking Project shows that while the USA managed to “turn and flatten the curve” in March and April we never sustained this effort to reduce the daily new cases below 20,000 per day. Given the limited testing in April and May this to me showed we clearly still had a huge problem.

USA COVID-19 Tests Per Day

So when many States relaxed “stay-at-home” mandates in early May, ignoring both the Federal and their own guides for reopening, I knew we were going to have a major problem.

Texas – COVID-19 New Cases per day

I hope that we can soon stop ignoring science and bring back strict “stay-at-home” and business closures so we can flatten the curve to the point where a “trace and track” strategy can control the spread of the virus.

Remember, it took four years to end WW1, and six years to end WW2. I don’t see this new world war being any shorter or less devastating.

I continue to monitor the situation and publish the data

Evie, Flynn and Georgie

After returning from helping to move David to Virginia Beach, and enjoying a scenic drive home, we went into self-quarantine again for two weeks to ensure we had not been infected with Coronavirus while away from home. We were not able to see Evie, Flynn and Georgie during this quarantine period so we relied on great pictures Charlotte share with us.

Charlotte with Georgie and Flynn, Houston, Texas, June 2020

From mid-June it was great to again be able to interact with Evie, and to see how much Flynn and Georgie have grown.

Andy with Evie and Flynn, Houston, Texas, June 2020
Kathy with Georgie, Houston, Texas, June 2020
Andy with Flynn, Houston, Texas, June 2020

We look forward to seeing much more of Charlotte, James, Evie, Flynn and Georgie as the month progresses.

New Garmin Zumo XT GPS

I had been thinking about upgrading my Garmin Navigator V GPS on KBiK to the newer Navigator VI GPS but always balked at the price and what I considered the limited improvements over the Navigator V.

Then Garmin came out with the Zumo XT! This new GPS seemed to be the perfect replacement for the old Nuvi 2555 we used in the car and would also supplement the Navigator V on KBiK. Initially I thought I would replace the Garmin Montana GPS but decided to leave that in place.

Used it last week for a 3,500 drive by car up to Virginia Beach and back. Love the clear and bright screen. Very easy to use.

Installed my new Garmin Zumo XT GPS on KBiK. Used a Wunderlich Multipod mount that I bought a while back but had not used. It blocks the view of the speedometer, but I cannot remember when I bothered to last look at that!

Wired it into my PDM60 with my other farkles.

Installed Garmin Zumo XT GPS on KBiK, Houston, Texas, June 2020
Installed Garmin Zumo XT GPS on KBiK, Houston, Texas, June 2020
Installed Garmin Zumo XT GPS on KBiK, Houston, Texas, June 2020

Virginia Beach Road Trip

At the end of May we decided we had modify our strict stay at home self-isolation regime to help our son, David, move from Chicago to Virginia Beach. David closed up his AirBnB apartment where he had spent the last three months working in Chicago on assignment with Mechdyne to the local power company. David drove a rented Tahoe with all his possessions down to Houston.

Preparing to move David to Virginia Beach, Houston, Texas, May 2020

We rented a 6’x12’ U-Haul trailer which we loaded with furniture donated by the Cameron’s, James and Charlotte’s friends and from our house. James and Charlotte very kindly allowed us to borrow their VW Atlas to tow the trailer up to Virginia Beach.

Preparing to move David to Virginia Beach, Houston, Texas, May 2020

With David driving the GTI following us in the Atlas with the trailer, we took three days to drive to Virginia Beach stopping overnight in Baton Rouge, LA and Augusta, GA. A long boring drive on Interstate Highway made bearable by us listening to the “Book Woman of Troublesome Creek”.

Moving David to Virginia Beach, Baton, Rouge, Louisiana, May 2020

After unloading and seeing David settled at his new house in Virginia Beach, Kathy and I took the long way round on a road trip back home. We drove up to Front Royal, VA and then down the Shenandoah Skyline to stay overnight in Waynesboro, VA.

Driving home down the Shenandoah Skyline, Virginia, May 2020

We then continued down the Blue Ridge Parkway to stay in Little Switzerland, NC. We continued to the end of the Blue Ridge Parkway and then over the Cherahola Skyway in to Tennessee staying overnight south of Natchez.

Driving home down the Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia, May 2020
Driving home down the Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina, May 2020

We drove down the Natchez Trace to Natchez, MS before returning home to Houston.

Sunken Trace, Natchez Trace, Mississippi, May 2020
Sunset over the Mississippi River, Natchez, Mississippi, May 2020

A 3,400 mile road trip! See all the pictures here!

Backyard Wildlife

Two small Downy Woodpeckers feast on the insects in the last of the oranges on the tree in our backyard

Two Downy Woodpeckers enjoy the insects in the last few oranges on our tree, Houston, Texas, April 2020
Downy Woodpecker enjoys the insects in the last few oranges on our tree, Houston, Texas, April 2020
Downy Woodpecker enjoys the insects in the last few oranges on our tree, Houston, Texas, April 2020

We enjoy a small Screech owl roosting in the Crape Myrtle bush in James’s backyard

Screech Owl in James’s Backyard, Houston, Texas, April 2020
Screech Owl in James’s Backyard, Houston, Texas, April 2020
Screech Owl in James’s Backyard, Houston, Texas, April 2020
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