kayaking on Loch Leven near Glencoe, Scotland, 2018

kayaking on Loch Leven near Glencoe, Scotland, 2018

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

National Scouting Museum

On a recent trip to the Dallas area, I had the pleasure of visiting the National Scouting Museum in Irving, Texas. I didn't have my camera with me, so I didn't get any photos. But you can see pictures and learn more on their website here. I've been a regular contributor to Boys' Life magazine for the past seven years, so I enjoyed seeing some of the history behind Scouting, as well as many modern day displays.

I greatly appreciate the artwork of Norman Rockwell. This museum boasts the second largest collection of original Rockwell paintings. He created many of the covers for Boys' Life between 1913-1971.
July 1935

There's a wonderful little movie featuring the high-adventure bases -- Philmont, Northern Tier, and Sea Base. And loads of memorabilia and fun interactive displays. Definitely worth the trip if you are in the area.

Much to my surprise, my favorite part of the museum was the wild west shooting gallery. I've never shot a gun in my life, but it's really quite a thrill to hit those targets!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Flashback Friday -- Big Bend National Park, Texas

Last year, we took a wonderful family vacation out west . . . west Texas, that is. And southeast New Mexico. One of our destinations was Big Bend National Park. Read about our adventure there, here.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Paddling to the Sabine Pass Lighthouse

A small contingent of Pelican Paddlers trekked to the tiny Texas town of Sabine Pass today to explore the long-defunct lighthouse that marks the far southwest corner of Louisiana. For my non-local readers, the Sabine River is the dividing line between Louisiana and Texas. We put in at Sabine Pass Battleground State Historic Site, a pleasant park with lots of historical placards about the site’s role in the Civil War, Spanish-American War, and World War II. There’s also a statue of someone (?), ammo bunkers, a nice boat launch, and clean restrooms.

We paddled across the Sabine channel – a daring feat on a sunny summer Saturday morning. Between the giant oil tankers, shrimp boats, and day trippers in their speed boats, traversing the channel can be a challenge. But once across, we turned right into a quiet little bayou flanked by marsh grass leading to the lighthouse. The neglected brick structure can only be reached by boat.

Peering into the doorway, you see the rusty pole which once held the spiral staircase to the top of the light. All the stairs have fallen off this center pole and now lie in a heap at the base of the building. The light went into service in 1857 and was decommissioned in 1952.

These pillars once supported the lighthouse keeper’s home.

Read more on the history of this lighthouse here.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


A lot of people fish here in southwest Louisiana. After all, this is a “sportsman’s paradise.” And there certainly are a lot of places to fish -- countless rivers, bayous, lakes and ponds, the Gulf of Mexico. Not long after we moved here, we enthusiastically bought a couple new poles and our fishing licenses, thinking maybe the fishing bug would bite us. But we haven’t used them much. At all. I’m not all that interested in fishing. Not lately anyway. But I have such fond memories of fishing with my dad when I was a little girl. We lived in southwest Pennsylvania, so we’d fish in lakes or small cascading streams. I don’t recall fishing along rivers – maybe Dad was afraid I’d fall in. My grandparents, both sets, had ponds on their properties, and sometimes we’d fish there. I have no photos of me fishing with my father, but I do have the memories. One in particular stands out. I drew the pole up over my shoulder, cast out the line, and the fishing hook sunk deep into the seat of my father’s pants. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. Or run. I recall the event as being hysterically funny, though it may not have been at the time.

All this comes to mind because this past weekend was a “free fishing weekend” in Louisiana. Which means we could legally fish without a license. Since mine had long since expired, it seemed like something I should take advantage of. I wanted to catch some reds – they’re so good on the grill. So we bought some shrimp for bait and went down to the marina. I really wanted to catch a fish. Any fish. Just one fish. But I guess it was the wrong time of day. Or the wrong place. And we didn’t have a lot of time. The fish weren’t biting. Maybe next year.

Speaking of memories, here are a couple of my favorite photos of my sons fishing with my Grandpa Lowdermilk in 1999. The boys were five years old at the time.

And here they are fishing with my dad in 2006, a year before we moved to Louisiana.

Do you have any fun fishing memories?

Wishing my dad and all the dads out there a very Happy Father’s Day!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Flashback Friday -- Jennings, Louisiana

Here's a post I wrote a couple years ago about a visit to Jennings, La. It's a sweet little town.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

They're Growing Up So Fast

As if I could forget, I receive daily reminders that my sons are growing up at lightening speed. The writing is scribbled in bright bold magic markers all over the proverbial wall. They'll be high school seniors next year. They're driving now. Andrew's high school yearbook senior pictures were taken this morning. College brochures are a staple in the mail box these days. And our two weeks of vacation this summer revolve around visiting colleges across Louisiana and Texas. Our dinner table talk is often about ACT tests and GPAs, tuition and scholarships, potential majors and job prospects. The boys will be eligible to vote in this year's presidential election. And they'll soon be required to register for the draft. Now there's a scary thought.

Where did the years go? How did they pass so quickly? It seems like only yesterday I sent them off to first grade on the school bus, tears in my eyes. When children are young, parents constantly hear the words, Oh, enjoy them while they're little. They grow up so fast. Yet no one truly believes it. We grow weary of hearing it. It's difficult to fathom, all those years still ahead of us. Until they are on the cusp of their senior year in high school, and we realize, we've got one year left. One short year to ascertain that we've taught them everything they need to know to survive in this world. Can they cook, do their laundry, clean their home? (Thank goodness for chores.) Can they fix things and shop for groceries? Are they kind and respectful? Will they remember their manners? What have I forgotten to show them, tell them, share with them?

The scariest thing about becoming a parent is that kids don't come with instruction manuals. And now I've got one year left. How do I know if I've covered all the material? I think kids should have to take an "end-of-childhood test" in order to know if they are truly ready to pass into adulthood. But no one has ever come up with such an exam. As parents, I guess we do the best we can. And then pray.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Flashback Friday -- Settling In

We moved here in June 2007, five years ago. Sometimes I think back to our first weeks in Louisiana, remembering my first impressions. Here's a post I wrote a little over a year after moving here, a memory of our first weeks in Lake Charles.