I returned from an Elderhostel trip to Ripley, W. Va. this past week.

We evidently took the rain we'd had all the way there since we drove in rain on the three-day trip there and back. It was not a fun drive, especially after being in a hydroplaning accident with my daughter in San Antonio the day before we left.

She was taking me to Austin to pick up the display stand for the Mammoth bones and we did a 390-degree turn on the busy Interstate Highway 37. We weren't injured and it was a miracle that we didn't hit anyone or get hit by anyone. Her truck was not drivable, so we had to be towed and get a rental truck back home.

The Elderhostel class involved learning a technique to make perfect points on stars for a block. I had aspirations to finish the regular to queen size quilt top. Those dreams turned into hopes for completing all 18 blocks. I ended up finishing three-fourths of my blocks.

Now I have to set them aside until after the holidays in order to work on several quilts for Christmas.

The conference center was run by the state and emphasized classes in crafts and arts but was used for retreats by various businesses, churches, schools and organizations. They had a beautiful location surrounded by mountains with what I'd call ponds with Canadian geese making their home there. They called them lakes, but when you can walk around the perimeter of water and see all sides of it, I call them ponds.

My two friends took to the early to rise and early to bed routine easily, but not this old night owl. I only slept well one night when I stayed up, it was to visit with some other guests and join them in a small glass of wine over ice in a Styrofoam coffee cup. You do have to rough it sometimes.

At least that night I was relaxed and went to bed at 11:30 pm and was able to sleep until the alarm went off.

The food was good, plenty of it, but three big meals at 7:30 a.m., noon and 5 p.m. were too much and too early to suit me. Plus, good old cafeteria-style does not result in food as hot as I like to have it. Walking to the cafeteria most of the time helped to compensate for having too much to eat (especially the great cookies they baked).

I don't think I'll consider any more long distant quilting workshops or traveling anywhere when it's a three-day or more drive. It's taken all week to catch up with work, especially with it being book selection week.

By the way, When you read this, our Columbian Mammoth leg display should be up and covered. That will be a big relief to know it's in place and ready for the unveiling on Oct. 18 at 3 p.m. Do plan to come and bring the children. We will have some fragments of bones to give to each child as long as they last.

Posters of the mural, t-shirts, and activity books, along with pictures of the individual animals and plants, with text written in English and Spanish, will be sold by the Corpus Christi Geological Society. They commissioned the mural painted by Dinah Bowman and she will be available to autograph the posters.

It is not too late to call (361) 241-9329 and reserve a place for the Beginner's Class on Nature Photography for children up to and including high school. Our instructor, Clay Taylor works for Swarovski Optik N.A. as their naturalist market manager and travels to bird festivals across the country, showing how to do nature photography.

Due to his busy fall week-end schedules we will have the class Thursday evening at 6:30 p.m.

As part of the class, those attending are asked to bring a digital camera or cell phone camera. We will have a nature photo contest in conjunction with the class.

Those participating will have two weeks to take nature photos and create a booklet of their best pictures and e-mail them to Clay Taylor for judging. Staff from the Coastal Bend Wildlife Photo Contest will also take part in the judging.