Thursday, December 14, 2017

Holidays and Jeep Repair

The weather has been great here in Dickinson the last few weeks. There were a couple of rainy days, then it got cooler. We are having cool nights in the 30’s and 40’s, then cool days in the 70’s. The northern part of the country is much colder and we have seen numerous pictures of snow in other parts of Texas. Fall, winter, and spring are great in Texas. We bought our motorhome to get out of Texas in July and August, but we love being here the rest of the year.

I had a bout with gout after we returned from our trip to the west coast during the summer and the effects lingered on for a while. Sore joints, swollen feet and legs and cherry red toes. Many of my friends are suffering from age related ailments and my problems are miniscule compared to others, so I will not dwell on problems. I do wish all my readers good health and a little cheer every day. Maybe even a lot of cheer on some days.

Kathi and I spent Thanksgiving at our sister-in law, Andrea Clark’s home. Our two sons were with us and most of the Clark family attended. Our nephew Rick had obligations in New Orleans and could not attend, also nephew Matt had to work and our grandnephew Austin was in San Diego at Marine Corps Boot Camp. The rest of us had a nice time. I did the best I could to carve the turkey and I guess I did okay. Most of it was gone after everyone ate. We also had a spiral cut Honey Baked ham, a good supply of mashed potatoes, yams, green been casserole, dressing and a few other side dishes made a delicious meal. Several kinds of desserts were available for anyone who did not stuff themselves on lunch. I did. It was a fun day and we enjoyed conversations, catching up and relaxing until late afternoon. 

Thanksgiving day in Andrea's back yard.

Our Grand Nephew, Austin Clark graduated boot camp in December 2017.

Our Jeep is in the shop. The problem began with a leaking radiator hose and I must not have been paying attention, because it overheated. We had it towed to the Pep Boys on W. Main St. in League City where they replaced the radiator hose, thermostat and thermostat housing, then they flushed the radiator and added coolant. It was still overheating, so the changed the water pump. No luck.

Now we are replacing two heads and head gaskets.  We considered trading for a new car, but I love our Jeep. It is one of the few vehicles I drive that I can enter and exit without expending considerable energy. My long upper body and short legs do not match Detroit engineering standards. Our Jeep has 140,000 miles, so I hope I did not make another error in judgement.

Watching me get in and out of our rental car, a Toyota Rav 4 is like viewing a comedy. Please do not watch.

Kathi and I, along with our two sons will be at Andrea’s again for Christmas Day. She will serve lasagna, which is always a hit with our family. We expect her sons, Wesley and Matt to attend with their families, but her daughter, Amy will celebrate Christmas with her family in Oklahoma.

I repeat our wish for all our friends: happiness, good travels and good health.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Our October at Green Caye

This coming Wednesday will be a month back at the Green Caye RV Park in Dickinson, TX. Sorry I took so much time between posts, but I have been having trouble with gout and inflammation in my shoulders and have been unable to use a keyboard for most of that time. My problems seem paltry compared to other things going on in the world, so I will not dwell on them.

During that time, we have seen Kathi’s cardiologist once and our family doctor several times for checkups and prescription renewal. We go to our dentist on Wednesday to assure we did not hurt our teeth with Halloween candy. Translate that to routine cleaning and semi-annual checkups. So far, all our doctor visits have been good news, not counting my joint aches and pains.

Halloween decorations at Dr. Pattanaik's office

Kathi and I went to Jimmy Changa’s for lunch, where we shared the Vera Cruz, then a few days later we had a cheese enchilada lunch at Gringo’s. Las Hadas was closed for the day. Good Mexican food is hard to find outside of Texas. There is a lot to be said about being home.

Well manicured shrubs at Jimmy Changa's

We had lunch with our son, Christopher at the Pipeline Grill in La Porte twice. He likes to eat their fried shrimp. Yesterday Kathi had a Greek salad and I had bacon, eggs and pancakes off their Saturday brunch menu. The salad had too much dressing and the pancakes were under cooked, but otherwise it was a good meal. I would never complain about bacon. I usually get a pepperoni and Italian sausage pizza at Pipeline and I will return to that on our next visit.

Saturday, October 21st we went to visit our sister-in-law, Andrea Clark and our niece. Amy Whitaker at Andrea’s home in La Porte. Our grandniece, Austin Clark was spending the night with Andrea, while her parents were in Galveston celebrating their wedding anniversary. Kathi made spaghetti and garlic bread for dinner. Andrea made a salad and Amy and Austin made a chocolate cake for desert, and we all enjoyed the conversation over a good meal. Austin kept me entertained for a couple of hours before dinner and then she settled in for a movie on her I-pad. It was a nice afternoon and evening.

Our friends, Lynda and Bunky McMahon were in Green Caye for a few days and we were glad Bunky dropped by to say hello on his way back to their home in Thicket.

We have not watched any of the Astros world series games, but I follow the game on the internet. Kathi and I are generally not sports fans, but somehow the world series seems special. The games have been fun so far and the series is tied 2-2. It seems to me, the Astros bull pen is weak and the Dodgers’ manager likes to use his bullpen to the fullest. A world series championship would be a great achievement.

It was hot here for the first few weeks of October and it has been pleasant this weekend with a temperature in the low forties last night. Texas weather is fun. In our travels we hear about unpredictable weather wherever we go, so I guess we are more like other places than we realize.

We are glad to be where we are and happy to be near our family for the holiday season.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Green Caye -- Dickinson

Kathi and I really enjoyed spending 16 days at Jim Hogg Park on Lake Georgetown and we got to spend several days with our oldest son, AJ, when we commuted to Austin or had him ride the Cap Metro to stay with us on the lake.

My sister, Carol and my brother-in-law, Lloyd Jackson drove their RV to the same park and their site was a few spaces away from ours. They drove in on Sunday and we went to lunch together on Monday. Carol and Kathi e-mail on a regular basis, but it is nice to sit down together and discuss recent travels and family activity. We met at Dos Salsa’s restaurant in Georgetown for lunch. There were a lot of cheese enchiladas and plenty of chips and red and green sauces for dipping. We had an enjoyable conversation over lunch.

It was hot the first week we were on Lake Georgetown and we got a little rain and some overcast days our second week there. Weekends are always crowded on the lake. There are a lot of local college students and families with RV’s that enjoy spending the weekend outdoors. We saw boats pulling children on paddle boards having a good time. There were a few boats that were still and I assume people were fishing. Of course, there are always young people on jet skis moving as fast as their engines will take them.

Boats pulling kids on paddle boards.

We enjoyed the noise and watching the neighbors, but we spent most of our time inside out of the heat. We were glad we had our portable air conditioner to supplement the basement air in our Alfa motorhome.

On Tuesday, we met Carol and Lloyd again for lunch, this time at Catfish Parlour. We did not have any catfish all the time we were out of Texas and the Catfish Parlour in Georgetown is one of our favorite places for a catfish meal. Conversation was lively and the meal was delicious.

After lunch, Kathi and I did some Walmart shopping to get enough groceries to make it through our time on the lake. We decided not to do big grocery shopping until we got to Green Caye in Dickinson.

On Saturday, September 30, we emptied our freezer and refrigerator of all the food Kathi had made for AJ over the last couple of weeks and loaded it in the car to deliver to him. After he got the food stowed in his refrigerator and freezer, we had lunch with him at the Cracker Barrel in Buda. We were all in the mood for breakfast and had different orders of bacon, eggs, sausage, hash browns and biscuits. AJ had some errands to run, so we drove him to get those done.

Flowers at Cracker Barrel

Sled on the Cracker Barrel wall.

AJ had an early morning dental appointment on Monday and Kathi and I drove into Austin to get him to the dentist. Kathi and I had sausage biscuits from McDonald’s while AJ was at his appointment. After he was through at the dentist, we drove through Wendy’s for lunch. AJ only wanted a bottle of water and I had a burger with fries. Kathi had a chocolate frosty and I had a vanilla frosty to curb our sugar craving and cool our innards.

We had a fun time in the Austin area, but now it was time to move along. We left the lake on Wednesday morning and had a nice trip on US 290 into Houston, except for the construction as US 290 approaches the city. We got set up at Green Caye around two thirty in the afternoon and spent the rest of the day cooling down the motorhome and reclining in our chairs.

We are in town almost two months earlier this year than normal and it will give us plenty of time to get all our doctor visits done and see our family that lives in the Deer Park, La Porte and Pasadena area. It feels like home.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Jim Hogg Arrival

Kathi and I arrived at the Jim Hogg Park on Lake Georgetown on Monday, September 18, 2017. We arrived here from the Abilene RV Park. We left the park moving east on I-20 and changed to US 183 south at Cisco. We drove through the small communities of Pleasant Hill, Romney, Rising Star, May, Owens and Early. US 183 left Early going southeast, through Villa, Mullin, Bozar, Goldwaite, Castor and Scallom and Lometa. We came to Lampasas, which was the biggest town we saw for that travel day. We continued on US 183 through Watson and Briggs. We turned east on TX 970 for a mile or so then south on TX 2338 which becomes Williams Drive in Georgetown.

We soon reached the Jim Hogg Park road, got checked in and set up at our RV site. Remember, our dash air conditioner in the RV quit working earlier in the week and the exhaust is off our generator, so we could not run our basement air and we were warm. We left our air conditioners running and went to Whataburger for lunch while the motorhome cooled. The air conditioning was refreshing at Whataburger, so we sat for a while after we finished eating. We returned home and retired early.

We contacted AJ and arranged for him to catch the early-morning train from Austin to Leander on Tuesday morning. It is about twenty miles from Jim Hogg to Leander, but that is a much easier drive than going into Austin in early morning traffic. The train ride takes about an hour and gives AJ a chance to read or nap on the way.  

I left the RV a little early and drove through the McDonald’s in Leander to pick up some sausage, egg and cheese biscuits for a breakfast snack and drove to the station to wait for the train to arrive. I had a twenty-minute wait, so I ate my biscuit and watched a Cap Metro security officer napping in his car until the train arrived. He woke up and drove away when passengers started unloading. I waited for a couple of minutes, still watching until all the passengers disembarked and no AJ. I thought maybe he fell asleep on the train so, I started to call him, just as he was getting off the train. I told him where I was parked. It was great to see him. He looked tired, but I was tired also, so I suspected we might both take a nap when we got home. I fed him the sausage biscuit I brought for him and we drove back home to spend the day with Kathi.

She made coffee for us and we enjoyed a conversation about our recent activities. We turned on the news to find out the latest on the hurricane damage and found that Mexico was also in dire straits following an early morning earth quake. We watched the news as we talked, thankful that we were in a safe area.

Kathi ordered catfish for our lunch and AJ and I drove to Catfish Parlour in Georgetown to pick it up. The fish dinner was great. We had not eaten catfish since we left Texas a few months earlier. Everyone enjoyed their lunch. I was right about the naps. AJ and I both fell asleep for a little while. AJ spent Tuesday night with us and we drove him home on Wednesday afternoon. It was great to see one another. We were glad to be in Texas and glad to be with family.

Wall art at Catfish Parlour

I love the old Burma Shave signs.

Seeburg Jukebox. It still works and has about 20 records, featuring Fats Domino, Frankie Lymon and Theresa Brewer.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

To the Lake

My last post, we left Tucumcari, NM headed for Lubbock, TX. We left off in Farwell where we turned south east on US 84 and soon left New Mexico, entering Texas. US 84 was good for us, as it went through Lubbock and continued on to Abilene, our next planned stop. We drove through Muleshoe, Sudan, Amherst and Littlefield on the way to Lubbock.

When I think of Lubbock, I always think of Buddy Holly.

As we neared Lubbock, Kathi called the Twin Pines RV Park and found all they had available was 30-amp sites, which was not adequate for us after driving with no A/C all day. We were warm, but not sweltering, so we decided to keep driving and find a park on the way. As I drove, Kathi looked for RV parks in the towns ahead of us. We looked in Slayton, but found nothing we liked, so decided to keep driving. It was warm, but with my window open, we were getting some fresh air.

We considered the Post RV Park in Post, TX, but we had stayed there several years before and it was rustic, with no paving and a dirt road to get into the park. Kathi looked on-line and recent reviews stated tree limbs drug the tops of motorhome when you entered the park. We slowed and looked at it, but decided to keep moving. Kathi found a couple of RV parks in Snyder, so we decided to take a look.

I saw a Snyder exit called Business 84. All the business routes I used in the past returned you to the main highway at the other end of town. Not this time. We drove through Snyder, seeing no RV parks at all and decided to return to US 84 and continue looking. Soon I saw a sign that said WEST 350. We were going the opposite direction from where we wanted to go. When I found a spot to pull over, I stopped to find out where we were and how to get back on track.

We were in Ira and I determined we could take TX 1606 east to reach TX 208 south, which would take us to I-20 and we would be back on the route to Abilene, although a different route than originally planned. I have been lost before, but it is hard to get 180 degrees out of sync without a clue. Well, I did it this time,

Nothing seemed available or adequate so we ended our trip in Abilene. Instead of the 185 miles we planned, we drove 350 miles. not counting the distance I drove when I misdirected myself.  I was tired on arrival and so was Kathi. We agreed to stay two nights, then we will move to Lake Georgetown.

We got our electricity working and turned on the air conditioner & spent most of the evening sitting in our chairs in front of fans, waiting for the A/C to cool the RV. We showered and went to bed early and it was still hot. I was finally refreshed enough to hook up our portable air conditioner. It took about an hour before it was cool enough to sleep, but sleep we did. We slept until ten o’clock Sunday morning. Our plan is to be on Lake Georgetown tomorrow and will see our oldest son, AJ on Tuesday. We are home (in Texas) and still happy campers.

A sailboat on Lake Georgetown earlier this year.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Texas, My Texas

All hail the might state. Texas, My Texas has been the state song since the legislature ran a song contest in 1929. The song was written by an Englishman named William Marsh and a Fort Worth native, Gladys Yoakum Wright.  I have not thought about the song in a while, but I have been out of state for a few months and just returned yesterday. The song came to mind as I started to write and I borrowed it for a title to this blog post. I, like most native Texans have a strong feel for the state. I am a proud Texan. Kathi was born in Oklahoma and adopted Texas when she was five years old. Texas is our home.

We arrived in Casa Blanca, New Mexico on Saturday, September 9th, planning to stay a week and we almost made it. We decided Friday was a good day to move. We are both ready to see our sons.

The temperature was moderate to hot in the daytime in New Mexico and cool in the evenings. I was running the dash air in our Alfa motorhome to drive off the global warming from the sun and before we got out of the parking lot, the blower on our A/C quit working. Remember, on our trip to Casa Blanca the exhaust pipe came off our generator. This meant no dash air and no central air while we were driving through the desert. I reminded Kathi of the situation and she said, “Let’s just get to Texas.” Great idea. They can both be repaired later.

We moved east on I-40 to the Cactus RV Park in Tucumcari, NM. Tucumcari is typical of a small desert town – a lot of blowing sand, rocks, closed and empty businesses and desolation. We had stayed at the Cactus RV Park several times before and used our Passport America discount. This trip we discovered they are still members of Passport America, but they have raised their prices. Half price was $27 for the night and the park had no saving graces. Kathi told me, “Mark this park off the list.” My assumption is we will not be back to Tucumcari.

Saturday morning, we left Tucumcari with a plan to spend Saturday night living it up in Lubbock. Texas – yahoo – the cheer, not the internet company. The trip was a restful 185 miles. We left Tucumcari on NM 209 south through farming country. We thought most of the crops we saw were alfalfa. We turned east on NM 19, which I will not do again. This is one of the roads between alfalfa fields, obviously intended for tractors. It was so narrow we slowed to a creep when vehicles approached from the other direction. The good side was there was little traffic. Obviously, the locals knew better. We were glad when we got to turn south again on NM 108. It was not much wider, but a tremendously better road than 19.

Still, we were glad when we reached US 84 in Farwell, NM and went east, entering Texas in just a few miles, then on toward Lubbock. Texas, My Texas, all hail the mighty state.

Next post: To the Lake

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Back to Casa Blanca

We spent a couple of days at the OK RV Park in Moab, UT. It was hot. We heard from our friends in Sunset that the smoke from local forest fires caused them to have to shut their shop doors, so the mechanics could breath. We wish our friends well, but I am so glad we are not there. Kathi and I both are already gasping for air much of the time due to the altitude. That is my latest excuse for being in poor physical shape.

Every time we have stayed in Moab, we stayed in the OK RV Park. If we go back, I want to try someplace new. They try to keep the little grass they have green by running water sprinklers every day. Either side of the motorhome I was on, the sprinkler sprayed me constantly, so I did not spend much time outside. The sprinklers were bad enough, but the mud they create is unavoidable. I think the groundskeeper must realize it is a problem, because many people put plastic bottles over their sprinkler heads. Either way, I spent my last night at OK RV Park. Their prices have tripled since we first started staying there about 10 years ago.

Mountain scene in Moab
We signed in at OK for three nights, but Kathi checked the weather and found out it was cooler in New Mexico, so we cut our stay short by one day, which was okay with me in my muddy shoes and damp pants. Thursday, September 7, 2017, we moved further south. We took US 191 south out of Moab and changed to US 491 east out of Monticello. We crossed from Utah into Colorado and went through Dove Creek, Cahone, Yellow Jacket and Cortez, before stopping at the Sleeping Ute RV Park near the Ute Mountain Casino in Towaoc, CO.

Mountain across US 491 for the Ute Mountain Casino in Towaoc
It was a short drive, so we were not worn out when we arrived and decided to spend a few hours at the casino. I hit a royal flush on a nickel machine, allowing us to extend our visit by a few hours. We had fun, but the strongest drink available was Pepsi, so we departed when our luck kept drifting down with our funds. Kathi made grilled ham and cheese sandwiches for dinner and we retired early.

Friday, we returned to the casino and played video poker until time for their seafood buffet. The boiled shrimp were good, but the fried fish, broiled cod and fried shrimp were awful. The person filling plates of crab legs must have been on commission, because he stacked crab legs on our plates until they fell off. The legs were cracked when we received them, making it easy to get to the meat with no tools necessary.

Saturday morning, we hit the road again, taking US 491 south through Shiprock and Little Water. We bounced our way from Little Water to Newcomb. The road was like a washboard in one spot and collapsed our air bags and shocks driving through. The exhaust pipe from our generator came loose and we lost the door to our hot water heater. I tied and taped the exhaust so it would travel with plans to fix it when we get to Texas. 

Rock formation near where we stopped to tie up our exhaust pipe.

Through the window and through the haze at Shiprock. The mountain Shiprock, NM is named after.

When it was travel worthy again, we continued south on 491 through the Navajo Nation, passing Naschitti, Tohatchi and Mexican Springs, before changing to I-40 in Gallup. We took I-40 east through Thoreau and Grants and stopped at the Dancing Eagle RV Park in Casa Blanca, NM. It is on the Acoma Indian Reservation established for Pueblo Indians. The rate is $10 per night here, so we will stay here for a few days. I am going to try and buy a new door for the hot water heater at the Camping world store in Albuquerque on Monday.

We are having a great time and will be back in Texas next week. I am going to spend this week recovering from bouncing down US 491. Kathi still loves me, so all is well.