Wednesday, October 29, 2014

MCD Shades

In May 2012 we had problems with several of the Day-Night shades that came with the motorhome. We had heard about “MCD Duo Shades”, so we decided to give them a try. Duo shades are actually two shades attached to the same brackets and shade holder. One shade blocks all light and the second shade is a black mesh that blocks some light. Both shades make viewing into the motorhome impossible from outside.

On Sunday, May 8, 2012, we left the “Old Settlers Park” in Round Rock, Texas and drove to the MCD factory in McKinney, Texas. An “MCD” representative was on site and helped up get parked and hooked up to complimentary water and electricity for our stay there.

We had enough money set aside to replace the shades in the living room section of the motorhome and planned to save for bedroom shades at a later date. On Monday morning early, an installation technician came out to measure the windows for the shades we wanted replaced. During the day they took all the RVers waiting on shade installation on a factory tour. I enjoyed seeing how the shades were laid out, cut and put on reels for installation. On Tuesday our shades were installed and an inspector came out to assure the shades fit, were cleaned following installation and were functional. Some minor adjustments were made and we were back on the road before noon.

It was less than eighty miles to Thackerville, Oklahoma and the “WinStar World Casino”, so we headed that direction. We stayed in the WinStar RV Park for about two weeks because we were having fun and had some luck in the casino. After the two weeks we had enough money left over from our winnings to return to MCD to get our bedrooms shades.

When I closed our bedroom slide to move there was a grinding noise so we decided to make a diversion to “Best Value RV” in Denton, Texas to get someone to check out our slide problems, before returning to MCD. It took a couple of days to find out where they could get the gearbox we needed so the sent us over to their sister service center “North Texas RV” in Krum, Texas. They provided water and electricity while we waited for the gearbox to be delivered. We found out it would be a week before the new part arrived, so we opted to go back to Thackerville and enjoy life without using our living room slide. Since there was not much room in the living room, we felt obligated to stay in the casino until after bedtime. What a rough life.

On May 16th we went back to Denton to get the gearbox installed -- spending two more days at “North Texas RV”. When repairs were complete, we needed to dump our tanks before going back to “MCD”, so we spent one night at the “Lighthouse RV Park” in Melissa, Texas. The next morning we went back to McKinney for installation of the bedroom shades. They looked great.

We still need to replace the shades across the front and the driver and copilot windows, but that will wait for
another time -- maybe even another lucky day at the casino.



Shade by the couch


Shade behind our chairs

Black mesh shades by couch

All shades open

Bedroom shades

Shade on two small windows in bedroom'


Monday, October 27, 2014

Columbia Riverfront RV Park

On August 29, 2009 we spent the night in the Walmart parking lot in Chehalis, Washington. It was exciting for us for a couple of reasons. First we were boondocking for our very first time. I did not know how to manage our battery power, so I had avoided boondocking for six years. It was a fun evening in Chehalis in the dark while I learned to manage battery power. I was probably up every two hours to make sure our batteries did not run down.

The other fun thing we did in Chehalis was watching livestock feed processing. We found the processing plant by accident, just driving down the street. We watched truckload after truckload of corn or carrots being dumped into a hopper and ground into mulch which came out a chute to a conveyor of the processing plant. They used whole plants, not just the corn and carrots, but all the cornstalks and greenery on the carrots. All around the area there was a fresh, sweet smell in the air.

We were on our annual trek from the Oregon coast to get back home in Texas before Thanksgiving. Our plan was to drive south on I-5 and go east on I-84 out of Portland, Oregon. While we were driving near Woodland, Washington, our left inside back tire blew. We have dual wheels on the back, but I did not want to drive highway speeds with a flat tire. We opted for the closest RV Park we could find. It turned out to be the Columbia Riverfront RV Park. It took me a couple of days to decide what to do, so we stayed to enjoy the weather and sites on the river.

Fishermen on the Columbia River

Sailboat and shore side observer

The Columbia Riverfront RV Park is rated one of the top 100 parks in the country. We got to watch sailboats, motorboats, fishing boats and big barges moving down the river. Fishermen in boats clustered in the evening and fished all night. The park has an outdoor pool and a 900 foot sandy beach for outdoor lovers. Fishermen catch salmon, steelheads and sturgeon. We would never have located this beautiful spot if not for the blown tire.

Adding pipe for water sprinkler system

Lots of fishing boats

I found it was cheaper to get our tire in Oregon than it was in Washington, because Oregon has no sales tax. I made an appointment at a Les Schwab tire store in Portland. They had to order the tire, so we had a couple of days to kill. The Columbia Riverfront RV Park was a little expensive for our taste, so we moved to the 99 RV Park in Vancouver, Washington which was also closer to Portland.

This boat stayed in the same spot all day.

Sailboat near barge station
 Les Schwab took us in at out appointment time and got us on the road before ten am to continue our journey. Boondocking at Walmart was fun and Les Schwab service was excellent, but the highlight of this trip had to be our stay at the Columbia Riverfront RV Park.



Sunday, October 26, 2014

Saturday, October 25, 2014

WinStar World Casino

For the last few Years the WinStar World Casino has been one of our favorite spots for entertainment. From Austin we take I-35 north and the casino is located one mile north of the Red River which separates Texas and Oklahoma. The Thackerville community is very small, so if you need anything beside a post office and gas, the closest shopping is in Gainesville, Texas, just before you cross the state border.

The casino complex includes two hotels, a huge paved RV park and a golf course. We have stayed at the RV park many times. It is easy to get in and out of and all spaces are paved. There is a three story parking garage and shuttle buses run constantly.

The casino itself is special and the layout allows for a lot of exercise. It is over a mile from one end to the other and Kathi and I have walked the entire distance several times. We park our car and go inside and move from one slot machine to another and invariably end up at the other end of the casino from where we parked. If it has been a long day, which it often is, the walk back to the car is excruciating.

The casino itself is sectioned into Plazas each decorated according to it’s name. The sections are: New York, Cairo, Paris, Beijing, Rome, Madrid, London and Vienna. Not only are they decorated like the cities, they have restaurants that you would find in these cities. Personally I love the Nathan’s hot dogs in the New York Plaza or the Matador’s Pizza in Rome. Kathi likes Kahn’s Fire Mongolian Grill in the Beijing Plaza. They also feature a Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar & Grill which has great steaks and all normal restaurant fare.

This may be the best casino we have been to across the country for getting to play for long periods of time without losing all our money. Of course, it is gambling. Lately when we want a casino for gambling fun, WinStar has been our first choice.   

The facade was designed by an architect out of Las Vegas.

One of six entrances into the casino.

The outside really gives no clue to what is inside.

The southern end of the casino has a bingo parlor and offices.

I got real excited when Kathi called me over to see this, until she reminded me it was pennies, then I realized I was still excited.

A lion decoration near the bank of Hot Shot slot machines.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Our 50th Wedding Anniversary

In June 1964 I returned home from South Korea where I spent my last year of service in the U.S. Army. I moved back home with my parents and began thinking about how to reengage in civilian life. I bought a 1960 powder blue Ford Fairlane six cylinder, four door sedan for $600 -- money I saved while in the Army. I started off earning $78 per month and by the time I got out of the Army, I was probably making about $325 a month, which includes base pay and proficiency pay.

After being home for a month or so and still not sure what I wanted to do with myself, I asked my sister, who had just graduated high school, to introduce me to some of her friends. And that is how I met Kathi. This was around August first. Kathi and I went out the next night and have been an item ever since.

Kathi had just graduated Pasadena High School and already had a job working for Prudential Insurance on Holcomb Street in Houston. She started school when she was five so she graduated at 17 years old. She could not drive, so her dad took her to work each morning on his way to work.

Kathi and I began discussing marriage and set the date for October 23, 1964. Since Kathi was not yet 18 her father had to sign for us to get a marriage license.

We got married at Kathi’s family home in Pasadena and after the wedding we went home to the Spacefield Apartments, where we rented a one bedroom apartment a few days before.

After less than three months of courtship and plenty of growing up still to come, we managed to make it to fifty years together. We take pride in our two sons, AJ and Christopher, even when they are a challenge. We are also proud of our education and work histories. Nowadays Kathi and I live in an RV and spend 95% of our time less than 30 feet apart. I feel so lucky to have Kathi in my life.     

Me with Sheila in the foreground.

Mr. & Mrs. Clark with Kathi and I

Kathi and Arlon

The minister that married us

Posing for the camera

The Love of My Life

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Oklahoma City National Memorial

In June 2007 Kathi and I went to Guthrie, Oklahoma, just north of Oklahoma City for a family reunion. The reunion was arranged by Kathi’s older brother Carl who hosted the reunion at his home in Guthrie. Guthrie is Kathi’s birthplace and we have visited there several times. Kathi was five when she left Guthrie for Texas, but she still has a lot of memories of friends and relatives there.

We parked our RV at the Cedar Valley RV Park on the west side of Guthrie on West University Avenue. The RV park is on a hilltop and is adjacent to the Cimarron National Golf Club. It is a quiet, peaceful place to stay in farming country which draws a lot of colorful birds that fly around the park. I saw a redheaded woodpecker when we got there in our RV, but he was gone before I could get a picture.

While we were in the area, Kathi and I took her younger brother, Larry and his wife Andrea with us to see the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum at 620 West Harvey Avenue in Oklahoma City.

This memorial was erected as remembrance for the 168 people, including 19 children, who died in the Alfred P Murrah Federal Building which was blown up on April 19, 1995 by Timothy McVeigh using a truck load of fertilizer as bomb material. Thirty orphans resulted from the deaths and two hundred nineteen children lost one parent.

Some of the features of the memorial are:

One hundred sixty eight bronze and stone chairs with a glass base etched with the name of each individual that died. Children’s chairs are smaller than adult chairs.

At each entrance to the memorial are the bronze Gates of Time. The east gate is labeled 9:01 and represents the last moments of peace before the bombing and the west gate is labeled 9:03 representing the time recovery from the bombing began.

The Survivor’s Tree is an American elm that was damaged in the explosion -- it lost many branches. The tree was living, but still in recovery.

I was fascinated by thin film of flowing water over the black granite in the reflecting pool that appears like a mirror to see your reflection. They claim every person that sees their reflection is changed by the event. I know I had a somber feeling just being on the grounds and it is certainly an experience that will stay with me forever. I think the others with me had the same feelings.  

Click on the pictures to enlarge them.

Field of empty chairs
Larry and Andrea viewing the memorial. Note the small chair commemorating children. 

Empty chairs seen from the back. See the reflection pool on the other side of the field of empty chairs.

Another view of the field of empty chairs

Our RV parked at Cedar Valley RV Park

A miniature RV and small tables and TV dish

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Kingsland

Kathi and I took a drive mid day today from our RV on Lake Georgetown west to Kingsland to see the houses on the Colorado River. Our family is discussing renting a four bedroom house there for a family get together after the first of the year. The places look great on the internet, but we wanted to get an idea of the area -- mostly we just wanted to be out of the RV for awhile, since we spent most of the weekend indoors.

We took Texas Highway 29 west over the rolling hills through Liberty Hill, Bertram and into Burnet. We crossed the Colorado River just south and east of Lake Buchanan. We passed the Lake Buchanan dam off to the north. I would like to get a closer view of the dam, but that will have to wait for another day. We passed Reverend Jim’s Dam Pub, then went south on FM 1431 to Kingsland.

We turned back east on Ranch Road 2545 and drove around several lakeside areas west of the river. The houses were small and crowded close together, although most of them do have nice boat docks. After half an hour we decided we were on the wrong side of the river so we backtracked to FM 1431 and went further south until we crossed the river again. We found the Colina Cove addition and found the big houses we came to see. Many of the houses are occupied full time and some are investment properties that people use for short term rentals.

It was a nice drive and pleasant diversion. When we got back to Georgetown we were both hungry so we went to “Catfish Parlour” for more catfish. It was great again.

We had Mexican food a few days ago at Dos Salsas. It is our favorite Mexican food restaurant in Georgetown and is right across the street from where we were doing our laundry.

Fake Deer

Clashing yellows

A neat lattice by a riverside home

A real deer hiding from me.

This is the back door of a big house across the river. A huge boat dock and outdoor area on the back side of the house.

Colina cove sign

Looking through the park to boat docks across the river.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Yellowstone II

Something a lot of people do not know is that a good portion of Yellowstone National Park is a caldera for an active super volcano. The caldera is so large that geologists did not recognize it for many years -- everywhere they explored and searched, they were already in the caldera. Two of the biggest volcanic eruptions in earth’s history have been at Yellowstone. The last eruption was in 1350 BC. There are 1000 - 3000 earthquakes in the park annually.

Hot pool of blue water

Steam rising from hot pool

A river at the bottom of a canyon.

"You can't roller skate in a buffalo herd, you can't roller skate in a buffalo herd, you can't roller skate in a buffalo herd, but you can be happy if you've a mind to." -- Roger Miller

Stream beside the road inside Yellowstone Park.

The partially molten magma beneath Yellowstone is the cause of the geysers, hot springs, mud pots and
fumaroles. There are about 300 geysers in Yellowstone, one of which is called “Old Faithful”. It is called “Old Faithful” because the water eruptions are somewhat predictable at about 91 minutes between eruptions. There are always park rangers around to tell tourists the schedule and answer questions tourists ask routinely. The rangers have to be patient to answer the same questions all day long.

The day Kathi and I were there we visited “Old Faithful” in the afternoon, so we were tired when we got there. By the time we walked around looking at the hot springs and other small geysers in the area we were more tired. When we found out the schedule for “Old Faithful”, we had just missed the last eruption, so we had an hour and a half to wait. A normal eruption for “Old Faithful” is a water cone about 100 to 180 feet high. It was springtime and a bright sun-shiny day, so I sat on a bench reading park literature while we waited. The hot pools and geysers around us made it very humid and warm. Finally the 91 minutes were up and we stood to watch the eruption. I got my camera ready and nothing happened. We waited and waited and nothing happened. I walked over to the park ranger and he told me the time schedule was approximate. This time it was almost 20 minutes late and then it sputtered a water spout about 40 feet high. I did not bother with a picture. The ranger told me the time for the next eruption, so Kathi and I went to our car and drove home.   

I was a little disappointed, because I figured I would never get to see the majesty of “Old Faithful.” I bet I could find a Video on YouTube, but it would not be like me being there. That was a minor disappointment for all the great sights we saw while we were at Yellowstone. 


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Carino's

Kathi and I are still living it up on Lake Georgetown. Beautiful weather today -- bright sunshine and 84 degrees. We plan to move to the Deer Park area around November 8th. Right now we do not know for sure where we will be staying, since the Green Caye RV Park in Dickinson is full. We have stayed there during the holiday season for about eight years.

It was such a beautiful day we wanted to be outside for awhile so we picked up our son, AJ in Austin this morning and went to the Carino’s in Manchaca for lunch. Manchaca is south of Austin, just before Buda. We started off with homemade bread to dip in seasoned olive oil. Kathi had the pecan crusted chicken salad and AJ and I had the house salad and 16 layer lasagna. I enjoyed the fresh salad with Italian Dressing and the lasagna was great. AJ and I had some lasagna left over, so he took it home for dinner.

I used to see signs that said Johnny Carino’s and I think this is the same restaurant chain, they just don’t always use Johnny’s name.

Remember you can click on the pictures to enlarge them.

This picture is taken at my nephew, John's back yard. I love seeing the moon in the blue sky.

We drove up on this spot and there were three baby fawns on the green grass. Before I could get my camera, they moved back into the woods. Their legs are visible, but you can barely see them in this picture.

I took this picture to see the tall spikes on the century plants. The spikes are about 20 feet tall. Some leaves, but no blooms yet. I will get a picture with a better view for a later post.

Bushes in front of Carino's. One bush with small red flowers and the one behind has purple flowers and look similar to lupine.

Carino's

Carino's sign

Monday, October 13, 2014

Howlin' Mad Moon

In June 2004, Kathi and I were staying at the Howlin’ Mad Moon Resort in Cameron, MT and using this as a departure spot for our trips into Yellowstone National Park. The resort is nestled in the Beaverhead National Forest. The resort has spaces for 30 RVs, cabins, a bar & grill, a laundry and a conference center. The sports bar includes Keno and Poker machines that Kathi loves to play. All the gambling machines in Montana are 80% payback, so you normally do not lose much money at their machines.

The cook was a young man less than thirty years old and he sat at the bar talking to patrons while he decided what the special of the day would be. He was very creative and proud of his meals. Everything we ate there was delicious.

On the clear, sun-shiny day of June 12, 2004 we decided to take an alternate path into Yellowstone. We turned southwest off of US 287 to Montana 87 through the Raynolds Pass, past Henry’s Lake in Idaho then picked up US 20 south back into Montana and on to West Yellowstone. US 20 is also called the Targhee Pass Highway.

Soon after we turned south on US 20, it started to snow. It was snowing so hard and such big flakes, I could not see the road. We still felt fairly safe, because we were the only car on the highway, so I kept driving at a much reduced speed. Within two minutes everything was white and the road was completely covered with snow. We discussed turning back, but we were half way to West Yellowstone and saw no advantage to turning around. Snow was falling hard enough for a blizzard, but the wind was less than 30 mph -- still this was enough blizzard for us.

As we got into West Yellowstone and the snow stopped and we saw no more snow the rest of the day. We had another thrilling trip into the park and another story to tell.

Sign for the Howlin' Mad Moon Resort. Almost no houses around, but the bar has many visitors in the evening. I'm not sure where the people come from, but I understand many drive a good distance to get there.

Our day in the blizzard

Trees turned from green to white in minutes.

Madison River beside the road

Residual snow on the mountains