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.
This year, our granddaughter, Evie helped with the harvest
About 300 Lemons picked in the first harvest. Now to the Limoncello production
This year we are going to try 95% alcohol!
Zest from 20 lemons for every 1.5 L of Everclear (95% grain alcohol)
80 lemons zested, now time to add the alcohol
We’ll now hide this away for four weeks to allow the lemon zest to infuse the alcohol. Patience!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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!
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.
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.
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”.
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.
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.
We drove down the Natchez Trace to Natchez, MS before returning home to Houston.