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volume 3                         May/June 1992                         number 3
Hot Off the Press!!!

Will wonders never cease??  The book is done!!!  There were times when we thought we should give up;  it seemed that we had to hurdle one obstacle after another and each one seemed to be saying that we should quit. But we persevered. We worked from early morning to late at night on our days off and just plain late at night after work. I had computer eyes and I know that Ron thought I had left him and returned as a zombie glued to a computer. The final editing and computer work nearly took its toll. 

An Alternative Lifestyle is not a real technical (as in boring) book. It deals primarily with the social and economic aspects of full-timing. It does not deal with how to fix things or pages of details on what kind of rig to buy. 

Ron worked for two years writing this book and we spent most of our time here at the LBJ ranch adding, refining, editing and re-typing it. We worked closely with our printer (Morgan Printing and Publishing in Austin) especially when it came to details like type size, headers and so on.  Since we were providing camera ready copy, it had to be good. 

I learned more than I ever knew this old brain could handle about Word Perfect and have to say that without their telephone technical support, I'd still be reading the text book and working frantically on the master document format of their wonderful software. 

When we finally had it ready to print, we drove to Kinkos in San Marcos (1 hr drive) so it could be printed on their laser printer. We figured it would be a one hour job and we would celebrate. Not so;  we were there till midnight and had to go to work the next day. Because we had formatted for the wrong printer (their error), we had more editing to do and returned two days later to re-print 70 pages.  Oh well, it did get done and it is good--- very good. 

Even if you are not interested in full-timing for yourself, you will enjoy reading all about this very affordable, adventuresome lifestyle. It will give you a better insight to a lifestyle chosen by thousands and thousands of retirees. 

We added stories from our newsletters, diary, or Christmas letters to the end of each chapter for added insight.  It makes for a nice combination.  And we have a variety of photographs to help with understanding too. 

We know that you have been waiting patiently and want your book(s).  Since we are leaving for England on May 26th, we are offering a special price for those who order now.  It just seemed that it would be a waste to have the book printed and you waiting for it while we are gallivanting around England. A special order form is on page 9.  We tried to make it so it is on the bottom third of that page and tearing it out won't affect your newsletter, but you may prefer to jot down the information on any piece of paper. If your order is postmarked by May 8th, you'll save $2.50 per copy. Our book would make a nice gift for mother's day, father's day, birthdays and retirement.  Think ahead and order more while the price is right. 

Ron's Mom Falls in Love with Texas 
Ron and his mom taking a walk on the LBJ ranch 
Ron's Mom, Elsie Hofmeister from Winter Haven, Florida, has a weakness for elder hostels and likes to plan one in conjunction with a family visit if possible. Elder hostels are for those who are young at heart, but over 60 years of age. It is usually a week long event often held at a university, and includes classes and tours on one or several subjects. She picked the Texas History hostel which was held in Austin on the campus of the University of Texas, March 2 to March 6. Ron and Barb asked her to stay a week after her classes so they could show her around.

Part of the hostel program was a trip to the LBJ Ranch. They knew which day she was coming and asked their supervisors if there was any way they could be scheduled to work andactually drive her tour bus. Although it meant juggling the schedule some, Sally Armstrong pulled it off. 

Barb was the bus driver that day and was at the Visitor Center early to greet the tour group. She made sure that Elsie got the front seat on the right of the bus�a special seat. The first stop on the tour was the LBJ birthplace and Ron was the guide there. As the group walked up to the home and son and mother recognized each other, both beamed and took time out for hugs before the presentation was made. Elsie said she was so proud of both her son and daughter-in-law and felt like a celebrity for the remainder of the classes at her hostel. Everyone asked her questions about Ron and Barb's lifestyle and so on.

Ron picked his Mom up at the university at the close of the hostel and brought her out to the ranch. She was a good sport and spent the first night in the motorhome with the couple. She got a kick out of the cows looking in at them all the time and enjoyed an early morning walk to get a close look at some of the other wildlife at the ranch.

Saturday the 7th, they packed suitcases and went to the Summit Coast to Coast Campground (CCC) at Canyon Lake where they had rented a little log cabin. Their thinking was it would be more comfortable with more room. It was too primitive though and was really less comfortable than the motorhome. But the four days there weren't wasted. They spent Sunday afternoon at Barb's Aunt Genevieve's house in Austin where she prepared a delicious dinner. Cousin Mary and her husband Bill were there too. 

Good friends of the Hofmeisters, Ed & Laurie Waples, live at Canyon Lake and they took the trio on a first class tour of San Antonio which included the missions, the River Walk and then a trolley ride to the marketplace. 

Another day the trio visited New Braunfels and Gruene. Gruene was especially fun because of the interesting old buildings and the general store where they sat at the counter and ordered ice cream cones. 

They moved back to the LBJ Ranch on Wednesday, the 11th and spent two nights there. From that location, they visited Fredricksburg and included a delicious German dinner at the Bavarian Inn. A good part of another day was spent visiting the Admiral Nimitz Museum also in Fredricksburg. It details his life and WWII in the Pacific. At the ranch, Elsie had fun just relaxing and enjoying the cattle and the fresh air.

While at the ranch, they also visited the famous town of Lukenbach and Ron took his Mom to the living history farm which is a part of the LBJ State park.

On Friday the 13th, they packed suitcases again and went to The Ranch* CCC in Spicewood (northwest of Austin). On the way (well just a little out of the way), they visited the Bluebonnet Cafe in Marble Falls for lunch. Barb says they have wonderful pies and she should know. 

The stone cabin at The Ranch  was clean, spacious, pleasantly rustic, comfortable and afforded the most breathtaking views of Lake Travis. The kitchen was complete with every tool, pans, dishes and included a micro wave. 

Saturday evening, Liz and Don Ryding (volunteers at the LBJ Ranch) came out for dinner. Elsie had known the Rydings from when Don's brother was her minister many years ago. After dinner, they had fun playing dominoes.

During the day at The Ranch, they listened to the birds, music on tape, played games, talked, read, walked and just soaked up the relaxation of it all. 

Elsie said it was a wonderful vacation. She got to see the beginnings of the Bluebonnets blooming, and got a hint of why Ron and Barb love the Hill Country so. Every time they were out riding, she wondered where every one was. Unlike Florida, there is little traffic. 

Ron said, �It was fun to share our lifestyle with her, and I loved seeing her enjoy new things. And the very best of all, I didn't have to go to Florida.� 

The couple hopes she will come again next year when the wild flowers are out. 

* Editor's note:  As of 1994, The Ranch is no longer in the Coast to Coast Campground system. It is now open to the public. 

by Ron
I can now name and identify quite a few wildfowers. My favorite is the Indian Blanket.  It's a red flower with yellow edges--- simply beautiful.  It's nice living in a flower garden. 

I have to say that I enjoy getting video tapes of the grandchildren. Beyond that, however, I am not a fan of cam corders.  We see many discourteous people using them. They seem to think that they have priority over other visitors and will not hesitate to hold up a line of people while recording every inch of a room that visitors are waiting to see. All the while they are talking into the thing. One man wanted me to stop the bus at the park entrance sign so that he could photograph the bus behind the sign. It was 86 degrees and there were 60 people on the bus. I handled that well. I told him politely that I couldn't and I didn't tell him where he could put his camera. 

If you attend a fish fry in Fredericksburg or Stonewall, you simply help yourself to all you want to eat and put a donation in the jar --- whatever you can afford. Beer is served the same way. Shortly thereafter, someone will come around and ask you if you want some more beer.  Try that in a big city. 

I am trying hard not to brag up the Hill Country too much because the 
people that live here are trying to keep it a secret. They don't lock the doors here and want to keep it that way. 

The 1937 confirmation class of Trinity Lutheran Church celebrated their 55th reunion this morning. They took up the first three rows in church.  Nice. 


The Easter Fires in Fredricksburg, Texas and wildflowers in the Hill Country have something in common. They happen in the spring time. 

Flowers Galore
   We figured we would see plenty of wildflowers --- we had been told we would, but never in our wildest dreams did we imagine the magnitude of it all. Our first hint of spring's arrival was the dainty pink blossoms on the peach trees which are abundant here. Bluebonnets (the state flower) started popping up along the roadsides early.  Little clusters appeared at first then whole fields were blue with the pretty flower. Bright coral Indian Paintbrushes were next and they stood next to the Bluebonnets in perfect color harmony.  But that was only the beginning and it hasn't ended yet.  Every day new colors and new flowers emerge. All the colors of the rainbow and represented in huge fields of flowers.  Imagine all the grass being replaced with flowers; fields as far as your eye can see.  Just recently the colorful Indian Blankets started popping up.  They are the shape of a large daisy and bright red-orange with yellow tips.  Right next to them are the appropriately named Wine Cups --- a dainty deep red-purple flower in the shape of a communion wine cup.  Oh there are little yellow flowers and white ones in all shapes and sizes and tiny little lavender ones and on and on.  I wish you could see it.  I took pictures and thought of printing one in the newsletter but it just wouldn't work --- not without color.  And there's more to come--- all the Magnolia trees have great big blossoms, ready to explode and the cacti have swollen buds too. Who ever said that Texas was all brown and boring certainly hasn't been to the Texas Hill country. 

The Easter Fires Pageant
   One of the benefits of our lifestyle is the opportunity to learn of different traditions in each section of this country. Shortly after we arrived, we started reading about the Easter Fires Pageant and bought tickets for the event which is held in the County Fair Grounds the Saturday before Easter. The pageant depicts the story of the German settlers who came here in 1849 and tried to live peacefully with the native Americans. As the story goes, some of the men of the town, went to make a peace treaty with the Indians. But other Indians set up camp near the town with big campfires so they could watch the town and signal that all was well. The children were scared by the sight of the fires and one mother made up a story to try to comfort them. Since it was near Easter, she told the children that the fires belonged to the Easter Bunnies who were up in the hills coloring the eggs. The treaty was signed and never broken and to this day the pageant tells of the day 146 years ago when all this took place. 

Over 500 participated in the pageant.  There were bunnies of all shapes and sizes who did dances to tell of the coloring of the eggs.  Indians portrayed the story of how the wildflowers came to be --- an old Indian legend of a little girl who sacrificed her doll to the fire so that the drought might end.  The reward was all the wildflowers and the end of the drought.  Many children dressed as brightly colored flowers did several dances. 

The German tradition is still strong here and when it came time to tell of the Easter Celebration, they sang old German hymns and said prayers in German. Occasionally German was spoken just for  effect. This is a town full of tradition and we imagined that the children remember being a bunny, Indian, or wildflower for all their years.  We were glad that we were able to share in this event. 

This 'N That
by Barb

We have enjoyed all of our visitors here at the ranch.  First to stop by were the Hornbys (Gene and Rita), friends we met in Yosemite last spring.  They were on their way back to Minnesota. 

Next to pop in were Earl and Donna Lincoln from Iowa. We worked with them in Hot Springs. These once a year visits aren't enough but we do keep in touch with letters. Last spring we caught them in the Rio Grande Valley. 

The Wakefields (Tom and Carol) were next to surprise us.  We first met them in Moab, Utah and featured them in Interesting People last October.  They  had just spent quite a bit of the winter in Mexico and Tom especially liked that.  If you remember, they are full-timing for just one year and have to go back to Oregon to work. Since they are heading East now, we just might catch them on our Eastern run. 

Our good friends Cal and Liz Mc Gee who you all recognize from their frequent letters in Movin' On, stopped by on their way to Colorado from a winter at The Meadows RV Resort (formerly Meadowcreek). On our tours, we met quite a few who had stayed at The Meadows and many knew some of our friends who had been there.  That is a fun place and I hope we get back there soon. 

Laurie and Ed Waples (Interesting People Feb'91) live in Canyon Lake which is near here so we saw them before we even came to the ranch.  They are building a lovely home and we got to watch as their 5th wheel was backed down the steep driveway and make a sharp turn into the carport. It was quite hairy. We visited them again while Ron's Mom was here. They were so kind to take us around San Antonio and are terrific tour guides. Just the other day, they made it up to the ranch, took a tour and visited some.  Even though they live so near, they had never been here before. 

Just today, Ron's uncle Herman and cousin Kathy stopped by on their way to Dallas from Florida. They made a special trip this way just to see us and it was good to see them. 

It is sad to say that we haven't spent much time with our fellow volunteers.  James and Mary Helen Mullen from De Witt, Arkansas are super people and great to work with.  On our days off though, we spent all our time working on the book and on their days off they go to San Antonio to be with their son's family. We are both getting ready to leave. 

Before Liz and Don Ryding left, Sandy Hodges had all of us volunteers over for a delicious dinner.  She is a gourmet cook and it was a delightful evening. 

I am so glad that we are going to come back here next year.  There are so many little towns I want to visit and explore and would you believe, we didn't even touch the golf clubs or tennis rackets while here.  That is a crime.  There are at least six golf courses here which are on our Golf Card and a tennis court right across the river at the state park.  Next Year!!! (We've been saying that a lot). 

I keep watching the national weather map and it looks a little cold up there in Michigan.  I wonder if we are pushing a little to get back there the middle of May. 

We got another wonderful video from Jim and Sue and felt like we were a part of their Christmas even though we weren't there.  Felt a little guilty about giving Kristopher such a noisy train.  I think I read somewhere that grandparents are licensed to do such things. 

I am not sure if I will be able to adjust after leaving the ranch.  I have not pulled a curtain or locked a door since I can't remember when. 

There are lots of good eating places around here.  Even the small village of Stonewall has a cafe. Lindigs serves down home --- nothing fancy cooking.  Next year I'll do a whole report on the good eating places in the area. 

Copyright © 1999, Movin' On with Ron & BarbTM- All Rights Reserved 

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