Fandangle Camping Trip

Fort Griffin State Historical Site Campground, 15 miles from Albany, TX, home of the Fandangle since 1938

Thursday, June 21, 2018

It is 7:45 PM here at Ft. Griffin State Historical Site. We are all set up in site number 25. It is a nice level site with no shade and 1 intermittent bar of LTE phone service.

We left the house at 8:15, got gas, drove to the storage lot, hitched up, and hit the road. I have been waiting for this trip since last August when I made the reservation after seeing a segment about the Fandangle on one of those Texas road shows. I looked for a campsite in Albany, Texas, and Ft. Griffin popped up. It is a lot like a state park, but is run by the Historical Commission.

My only worry on this trip was running out of gas. It was a one and a half tank drive pulling the trailer. I was worried about getting in and out of little rinky-dink gas stations in the small towns I would hit on the back roads. I bought a gas tank that I figured I could use to cart gas between the pumps and truck, if I couldn’t find a station to maneuver into. Fortunately, I saw a station in Mason that was perfect for me. I filled up and had enough to complete the trip. Then, Rachel and I kept our eyes open the rest of the way. We saw lots of good options for the return trip, so I am no longer worried.

The drive took us just over 5.5 hours. I never drive fast pulling the trailer, so it took a bit longer than the original estimate. No biggie. I got to see some cool stuff. Rachel got a nice nap.

When we got here, there was a problem with my reservation. I told the lady at the desk that I was there to check in to site 23. She told me rather curtly that this park didn’t let you pick sites in advance. I pulled out my phone and accessed both my digital receipt and a scanned copy of the one they sent in the mail. She didn't care. She kept grumbling that "whoever" took my reservation did it all wrong. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that the name on the receipt was also on her very own name badge! Anyway, 23 was electric and water. I had a deposit down for a full hookup. That’s why I am now in site number 25. I hope someone else doesn’t show up and get screwed. She claims that won’t happen, because there is no way for them to reserve it the "wrong way" I did. I took a nice deep breath and just decided to say, "Thank you, Mam," and forget trying to understand it.

It was a scorcher here today. As I said, our site has no shade at all. I got everything set up while Rachel sat in front of the box fan. The AC cooled the camper down to a bearable level fairly quickly.

I decided to run the ice machine so I could put some ice in the freezer to help cool it down. Evidently that was too much for the park's power grid. After about 45 minutes of making ice, we tripped the circuit breaker. I went out and flipped it back on, and made a decision to skip the ice to make sure the AC stayed on. We needed a cool trailer more than we needed a cold refrigerator.

We headed in to town for dinner just before 6:00 PM. We went to the Beehive. It was my lucky day- all you can eat boiled and fried shrimp! Add a very small trip to the salad bar and a plain baked potato with cocktail sauce on it, and I was able to stay way within my calorie budget. I still have almost 700 left for the day that won’t get used at this point. Believe me, I am stuffed.

We came back to the camper after dinner. There’s a lot to do tomorrow, so it will probably be an early night. We are suddenly fully shaded from two trees which are actually a long way off from us. The camper is at about 73 degrees. Any minute now, Rachel will start complaining. Me? I like it cold!

Anyway, I’m not going to post this until we get home. The service is really bad unless I go over to the bath house and use their booster. More tomorrow.

Friday, June 22, 2017. 5:30 PM

Both of us spent some time reading last night. Rachel started watching a series on her iPad. Then we got in bed and watched a Netflix movie on the TV. Rachel fell asleep before it was over at about 10:45. I used the bathroom and went to bed then.

We woke up to a chilly 66* camper this morning. I had some coffee, but didn’t have any appetite. We dressed and drove over to the fort for our walking tour of the grounds before it got too hot. The lady there, tried to get us to use a golf cart. We only walked about a mile, and it wasn’t hot yet. I took lots of pictures which are linked below.

We returned to the camper at about 8:30 AM. Rachel went back to her series, and I tried to read. I must have fallen asleep because it was suddenly close to 11:00, and Rachel was ready to head into town, so we changed clothes and hit the road.

It was a short 15 mile drive back to town. On the way I saw something I have never seen. Three huge turkeys flew across the highway at windshield height about 25 yards in front of us. At first, I wasn’t even sure what kind of birds they were. I have never seen wild turkeys fly like that. It was amazing.

We went straight to a place called Vintage Vanilla in downtown Albany for lunch. They had a lasagna special, but we both opted for sandwiches. Rachel had ham and cheese on ciabatta bread. I had ham salad. They were very good.

After lunch, we walked around downtown and went into some of the shops. We each got a Fandangle t-shirt. Then we crossed to the town square and went inside the courthouse. Parts of the outside of it are under reconstruction of some kind. The front door was open, and we had read that we could tour it between 10:00 AM and 4:00 PM. The strange thing was that there was not another living being in the entire building. Rachel stayed on the first floor, but I climbed the stairs and walked around the actual courtroom taking pictures. I even stood right in front of the judges bench to get a good picture of the audience area.

We left there and walked over to the Old Jail Art Center and wandered through it. They had some really nice things in their galleries. They even had some paintings by Renoir and other well known artists.

We sat down in one of the huge galleries to watch a video about the history of the Fandangle, but it suddenly stopped running and a screen came up saying the PC had terminated unexpectedly. It made a loud siren-like noise as the computer rebooted. The movie selection screen never came back up. We decided we were ready to go anyway. Rachel told me not to say anything or they would fix it and make us feel obligated to stay and watch the video. I told them that the PC shut down just right at the end of the video, and they might need to adjust it for other viewers. White lie. I know. Get over it.

We walked back to the truck in the blistering heat. It was getting close to 100*. I told Rachel that we should go get gas then hit the DQ for a small Blizzard to beat the heat and use the internet. We stopped and got gas on the way. I got a Jurassic something or other. It was really good, but was actually just a Reese's peanut butter cup blizzard with different shaped peanut butter cup pieces in it. It was really good.

While we were there, I uploaded all my photos to a folder in Google Drive. Then I completed the list of online things I needed to do. There are some word games I play daily that need to be downloaded. I also needed to record my meals up to that point.

When we had had enough of sitting in the DQ, we left and drove out to the Prairie Theater where the Fandangle would be to make it easier to find tomorrow night. Then we headed back and parked downtown for our walk to the Aztec Theater to see the one-act play Antic Spring, which was written by Robert Edward Nail, the guy who wrote the Fandangle and several songs for it in 1938. It was performed by high schoolers. It was kind of cute. They did it for free with donations to Alzheimer’s. The theater was almost full.

After the play, we walked over to the Whitney Theater on the square to see the Fandangle Quilt Show. They had about thirty beautiful quilts on display. That was also free. While we were in there, they unloaded a small herd of longhorn cattle across the street at the the courthouse. It was surreal walking out of that old theater and seeing longhorns, a beautiful old-time courthouse, and a bright yellow smart car all in the same shot!

We found the Brookshire grocery store on the way out of town. Neither of us was feeling hungry enough to eat before driving back to the camper. We thought it would be better to buy something and eat it later. I got a salad mix, a small pouch of bacon pieces, and a bottle of balsamic vinegar. Rachel got some cheese and crackers. It was a nice store. At the register, the cashier asked if I had a store card. I said no, so an older gentleman in line told her to use his. She did, and we got an instant $5.63 off our total. I was buying a lot of two for one products, but you had to have the card to get that price. We thanked him and headed back to the Colby 2.0.

When I first walked into the camper, I thought it felt really cool and fresh. I looked at the thermometer, and it was actually 85*. Considering that it is above 100 outside now, that was okay. Neither of us felt uncomfortable. I put the awning out to shade the camper, and it quickly went down to 78*, where it has stabilized for the last hour. It is very comfortable in the camper with the box fan blowing. I wish 78* felt this good at the house! We could save a lot of money.

I have been reading and writing. Rachel is back to watching her series. We took a little break to eat our dinners. It was still pretty hot outside, and even though there are some trails here, neither of us is motivated to get back out there. We will do them in the morning.

June 23, 2018, 5:30 PM

We spent the remainder of last night watching an awful Netflix movie called Ibiza. Once again, Rachel fell asleep for a lot of it. Sometimes, the volume went up so loud on the dance scenes that it woke her up again. Shortly after it ended, we were both asleep.

This morning, we woke up around 6:00. We wanted to hike the trails while it was cooler. We ended up only hiking one of them. It was kind of lackluster. The only things that made it exciting at all were the multitude of spider webs that were strung across the trail. I tried to see them as we walked, but they were nearly invisible and I kept walking into them. I got that creepy "spider gonna get me" feeling about 25 times. We decided against the other trail.

Back in the camper I listened to a book while Rachel did something on her iPad. Eventually, She asked if I wanted to try going to another town or something. The Fandangle isn’t until 8:30, and we have already done everything there is to do here. We decided to get cleaned up and head to Abilene, which I thought was about 30 miles away. We had to drive back through Albany, so it was more like 45.

We pulled into a huge parking lot at a church when we arrived in Abilene. We needed to do an internet search for things to do there. Then, we let the phone's map app guide us to Frontier Texas. It was a really nice museum. There was no parking, so we went to a lot across the street that was marked for it. They had a farmer’s market going on, so there were no usable spaces there, either. I ended up parking on the curb.

When we got inside the museum, I went to pay. I had a coupon on the phone for $2 off. The senior’s price was for 60 and over. I commented that we were five months too early for me to get the discount. Then Rachel noticed they had a really low teacher’s discount and said we were retired teachers. The The lady ended up giving us the teacher rate minus the two dollars from the coupon, so we both got in for $10 instead of $20. The museum was worth it at any cost.

The tour started with a 12 minute movie that set the tone. Then we wondered around the displays and watched some incredible holographic displays. The tour ended in a big theater with swiveling stools. We sat there spinning and watching whatever was projected around the walls all around us. It was amazing.

We walked around the grounds a bit before heading over to the Cowboy BBQ for lunch. I had asked at the museum, and the ticket lady said it was really good. For me, it was just okay.

After that, we drove a few miles down the road to the Pappy Slokum Brewery. I had a flight of their beers, and we headed back to camp.

Back at camp the temperature in the Colby 2.0 was a cool 75*. It usually stays pretty cool on really hot days as long as it starts out already cooled down in the morning. Rachel and I both spent the brunt of the afternoon reading when we weren’t letting mud daubers out the door. We have had at least 7 of them. I can’t figure out where they are coming in from. I suspect it might be the couch slide. When we first got here, I noticed they were swarming all over the truck within a minute. I’ve never seen so many. They seem to come in, fly straight to the door, and wait for us to open it so they could get out. Weird!

We finally left for the Fandangle at 7:15. I was a little cooler outside than we expected, but not much. Fortunately, there was a huge solid cloud blocking the sun for at least an hour. When we got to our seats at the show, the clouds in front of us were beautiful. They looked like a bunch of eggs in a basket. Before too long, the wind picked up a bit and we saw some lightning in the distance. At one point about an hour into the show, Huge streaks of lightning seemed to surround us on all sides. They lit everything up like daylight. About half of the audience got up to leave, expecting to get poured on any minute. Rachel and I hung on till the end. Light rain hit just as we drove through Albany after the show. Then we drove the 15 miles to camp in what looked like a nuclear war with HEAVY rain. We stopped at the bathhouse to check Weatherbug and see what we were in for. It didn't mention any tornadoes or hail. Anyway, by the time we got into the trailer, it was all but over.

The show was fantastic. It looked like the entire population of Albany was in it. You can get a taste of it by looking at my photos. It is something you just have to see. I thought it was better than the show at Palo Duro Canyon. Because it was the townspeople putting on the show, it had an endearing sense of civic pride that was really special.

We went to bed shortly after getting back to the trailer. I set an alarm for 6:00 AM. Although it was a fantastic trip, I was really anxious to get back home, and wanted to get an early start on the road home. By 8:00, we were on our way. The trip was pretty uneventful. I stopped a few times for gas. I also stopped a couple of times to make sure the tape was still working on the part I have taped up under the bumper. I don’t know what you call it. I’m going to try a permanent fix tomorrow.

Well, that’s it for this trip. I’m too pooped to write anymore. You can see all of the pictures from this trip here: