May 31, 2019

Looking Back - A Cup of Tea

Looking Back... In an effort to transfer my book journal entries over to this blog, I'm going to attempt to post (in chronological order) an entry every Friday. I may or may not add extra commentary to what I jotted down in these journals.

A Cup of Tea: A Novel of 1917 by Amy Ephron 
1998 Ballantine Books
Finished in August 1998
Rating: 1/5 (Poor)

Publisher's Blurb:

Amy Ephron gives us a delightful tale of romance, set against the backdrop of New York society during the uncertain days of World War I. Rosemary Fell was born to privilege - her only real hardship having been the loss of her mother some years earlier. She has friends and she has a great deal of money, and now she is about to marry Phillip Alsop, who owns a shipping concern and is of her social circle, though not of her wealth. Finally, she will have everything she wants. It is then, in a moment of beneficence, that she invites Eleanor Smith, a penniless young woman she sees under a streetlamp in the rain, to come to her home for a cup of tea and to warm herself by the fire. While there, Rosemary sees Eleanor exchange an unmistakable look with Phillip, and suddenly everything in Rosemary's carefully sculptured life changes. Rosemary sends Eleanor on her way, but she cannot undo this chance encounter that puts into play a tempestuous and all-consuming triangle. As the war builds in Europe, Phillip is sent to fight abroad, throwing all of their lives off balance.

My Original Notes (1998):

So-so to dull. I'm glad I didn't buy this book. Not my cuppa tea.

My Current Thoughts:

I wonder if I chose this because I loved Nora Ephron's (Amy's sister) Sleepless in Seattle. I'm pretty sure I haven't read anything else by her (or her sister, Delia) since this one.

May 28, 2019

Van Horn, TX to Faywood, NM (City of Rocks)

Friday, October 5, 2018
Van Horn, Texas to Faywood, New Mexico
City of Rocks State Park
Distance: 233 miles
Cost: $14 per night
Duration: 2 nights
Weather: Sunny & hot (80s)

We were up very early and on the road before 9:00, thanks to the sound of train whistles blowing as they passed by our RV park. Back on I-10, heading west, we survived driving through El Paso without incident. There was a lot of traffic, but it wasn't nearly as stressful as driving through Reno and Albuquerque. I'm not sure if it was because it was earlier in the day or that I didn't have to merge onto another freeway, but it was definitely easier to navigate through El Paso. We didn't have any problems with wind gusts until the last hour on I-10 and also on the highway heading to Faywood.

Sunrise at Desert Willow RV Park.

Note how close the railroad track is to the RV park.

City of Rocks State Park is about 30 miles from the exit off of I-10. Not knowing where we were going and relying on our GPS, it felt like we were driving out into the middle of nowhere. I kept thinking maybe we had messed up somehow and would have to turn around, but we eventually made it to the park and found our site.

From the website:
City of Rocks gets its name from the incredible volcanic rock formations found here. The park encompasses a one square mile area in the scenic Chihuahuan desert region of southwestern New Mexico at an elevation of 5,200 feet. The “city” is a geologic formation made up of large, sculptured rock columns, or pinnacles, rising as high as 40 feet and separated by paths or lanes resembling city streets. These rocks were formed about 34.9 million years ago when a very large volcano erupted. Then, erosion over millions of years slowly formed the sculptured columns seen today, creating a stunning, otherworldly landscape.

Cool, huh?!

The "city" is off to the left.

Our view for the next few days.

Nestled between the towering rocks.

The huge rock formations are the result of a volcanic eruption millions of years ago. The lava cooled and froze and eventually split into these large rocks.

No neighbors!

Table Mountain

The rocks provide some shade, as well as a windbreak.

Amazing how that one rock is just perched up there. 

Such a beautiful evening.

City of Rocks State Park offers nine reservable sites with water and electric hookups (showers are available in the nearby visitor center), but we opted for the primitive camping area (no water or electricity) in order to enjoy a more private setting for our two-night stay. The expansive views and dark night sky were almost otherwordly. The evenings were so peaceful and the stars were amazing! Great place to spend a few days. We loved it.

May 27, 2019

Looking Back - At Home in Mitford


Finished on May 22, 2019
New Rating: 3.5/5

After sharing my recent post about At Home in Mitford (below), I decided it would be fun to start re-reading this series. I read a chapter or two, picking it up here and there between other books, taking my time and not rushing to finish it too quickly. I enjoyed revisiting Mitford and all the quirky characters, but I may not have liked it quite as much as I did 20 years ago. At times, I found myself a little bored with the story, but the second half picked up and while I may not have loved it, I'm glad I read it again. 

Looking Back... In an effort to transfer my book journal entries over to this blog, I'm going to attempt to post (in chronological order) an entry every Friday. I may or may not add extra commentary to what I jotted down in these journals.

At Home in Mitford by Jan Karon
Mitford Series #1
1994 Penguin Books
Finished in February 1998
Rating: 4/5 (Very Good)

Publisher's Blurb:

It's easy to feel at home in Mitford. In these high, green hills, the air is pure, the village is charming, and the people are generally lovable.

Yet, Father Tim, the bachelor rector, wants something more. Enter a dog the size of a sofa who moves in and won't go away. Add an attractive neighbor who begins wearing a path through the hedge. Now, stir in a lovable but unloved boy, a mystifying jewel theft, and a secret that's sixty years old

Suddenly, Father Tim gets more than he bargained for. And readers get a rich, provincial comedy in which mysteries and miracles abound.

My Original Notes (1998):

Awesome novel! Not a great work of literature, but simply a wonderful slice-of-life story. The characters are so lovable. Puny and Doolie are so funny and I love the romance between Fr. Tim and Cynthia. I'm such a sucker for a romance. I hope they get married!

My Current Thoughts:

I've read several books in this series and I think this first installment was probably the best. I remember laughing out loud and reading passages to my husband. I still own quite a few of the books and have decided to give this one a re-read sometime this year. I'm curious to see if it stands the test of time.

May 26, 2019

Fort Stockton & Van Horn, TX

Thursday, October 4, 2018
Fort Stockton to Van Horn, Texas
Desert Willow RV Park
Distance: 125 miles
Cost: $14
Duration: 1 night
Weather: Sunny and hot (80s)

We had an uneventful drive along I-10 with (thankfully!) no wind to speak of. We didn't have a very long drive, but it would have been too far to go all the way to our next destination, so we opted to stop for the night in Van Horn.

Beautiful clouds over the mountains.

Very basic park. Full hook-ups, but 
no picnic table or trees for shade (or privacy).

A hitching post for your horse?

Trying desperately to keep the RV cool!

No noisy neighbors, but the train tracks are right
behind those buildings and we heard them all night.

I suppose they can't all be gorgeous RV parks with pools, pickleball courts and curbside trash pick-up. At $14 a night (using our Passport America membership), this no-frills park was clean and tidy and for one night, we really can't complain. Easy access from I-10 and a very friendly manager, whom we probably should have asked for lunch recommendations rather than trying Chuy's without checking the online reviews. I can't remember the last time I had such a terrible meal. The beer was even flat!

It appears that the park is under new management and is now called Wild West RV Park. I wonder if they have any plans to plant some trees or shrubs. Or, maybe they'll just add a few tumbleweeds between sites. ;)

May 24, 2019

Looking Back -Summer Sisters

Looking Back... In an effort to transfer my book journal entries over to this blog, I'm going to attempt to post (in chronological order) an entry every Friday. I may or may not add extra commentary to what I jotted down in these journals.

Summer Sisters by Judy Blume
1998 Delacorte Press
Finished in August 1998
Rating: 4/5 (Good)

Publisher's Blurb:

In the summer of 1977, Victoria Leonard's world changed forever—when Caitlin Somers chose her as a friend. Dazzling, reckless Caitlin welcomed Vix into the heart of her sprawling, eccentric family, opening doors to a world of unimaginable privilege, sweeping her away to vacations on Martha's Vineyard, a magical, wind-blown island where two friends became summer sisters...

Now, years later, Vix is working in New York City. Caitlin is getting married on the Vineyard. And the early magic of their long, complicated friendship has faded. But Caitlin has begged Vix to come to her wedding, to be her maid of honor. And Vix knows that she will go—for the friend whose casual betrayals she remembers all too well. Because Vix wants to understand what happened during that last shattering summer. And, after all these years, she needs to know why her best friend—her summer sister—still has the power to break her heart...

My Original Notes (1998):

Very good! Entertaining. A little predictable, but it didn't bother me. I enjoyed watching how the two friends' relationship evolved over the years.

My Current Thoughts:

Nope. No memory of this at all. It may be one that I read with an online book group.

May 23, 2019

Junction & Fort Stockton, TX

Wednesday, October 3, 2018
Junction to Fort Stockton, Texas
Distance: 209 miles
Hilltop RV Park
Duration: 1 night
Cost: $30
Weather: Muggy & overcast

It was very windy on I-10, so it wasn't the most enjoyable drive. We stopped in Ozona (unremarkable) for lunch and arrived in Fort Stockton by mid-afternoon. Hilltop RV park isn't anything special, but the easy access off the interstate makes it convenient for an overnight stay. The sites are situated in a basic gravel lot with full hook-ups, showers and picnic table. It looked very stormy to the west, but, thankfully, we only had a few sprinkles. 

 I-10. Whole lot of nothing!

 Hilltop RV Park

Can't say that we would ever stay here again, unless we just needed a place to spend the night.

May 21, 2019

New Braunfels & Junction, TX

Monday & Tuesday, October 1 & 2, 2018
New Braunfels to Junction, Texas
Distance: 134 miles
South Llano River State Park
Duration: 2 nights
Cost: $30 per night
Weather: Hot (80s) and muggy!

We had such a wonderful visit with our dear friends, Linda and Bob. They have created a lovely home in Texas and the outdoor setting was just as beautiful and inviting as the inside. I hope it won't be too long before we return!

Beautiful live oaks.

It's not Texas without cactus!

Perfect for entertaining.

Our gracious hosts!

Bob and Miss Linda

With a leaky fresh water tank (discovered shortly after we had our oil changed at the local Ford dealership), we headed out to Junction, Texas for a couple of nights. South Llano River State Park is just a few minutes south of Junction. The park has lots of trees and grassy areas, full hookups, free showers, fairly level asphalt pads and plenty of privacy between sites. There are walking trails and nature viewing areas, but it was too hot to anything outside. We did see some wild turkeys wandering around, and lots of butterflies, but that was about it. There weren't very many campers, so it was nice and quiet, with the exception of the sound of acorns falling on the roof of the RV and the patio cover! Everything always sounds louder when it hits the roof, so it wasn't the most restful night.

The following morning we decided to go into town to do some laundry and get a few groceries. As I was loading some of the clothes into one of the dryers, we heard all sorts of sirens, so we peeked outside and watched city, county and state police chasing a pickup truck down the main street of Junction! It felt like we were watching an episode of The Dukes of Hazzard! 

Oops! Forgot the soap in the washing machine on the right.

Not a whole lot going on downtown...
 until the big car chase by (almost) every cop in the state!

While the clothes were in the dryers, we walked a few blocks to the library to see if they had Wi-Fi. Rod stayed there to get some work done (no cell signal at the campground), while I went back to finish up the laundry. 

All in all, it was a decent campground, but probably not one we'll visit again.