Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Village RV Park in Nacogdoches

This is another post about Kathi and my previous travel experiences. It covers the end of our 2005 travel year and takes us into 2006.

I left off our 2005 story with our arrival at the Green Caye RV Park in Dickinson and getting back together with family and friends for the year-end holidays. We stayed at Green Caye for one month. Our oldest son, AJ was in San Francisco ready to start a new semester at San Francisco State University. Our youngest, Christopher was in the marines and still stationed at Twentynine Palms, CA. Christopher took a two week leave while we were in Dickinson, but he stayed with friends and not with us in our motorhome. One thing we did during Christopher's leave was to get him a cell phone so his mother could keep better track of him. We all know how mothers are, no matter the age of the children.

When our month was up, we were ready to travel again. We made the rounds and said our good byes to everyone, then begin making travel plans. It was January 20, 2006 and we were getting everything ready to move and we had a couple of obstacles. First, our main slide-out got hung up on our carpet. I had to cut a piece out of the carpet to get it loose. Kathi met the challenge with mixed emotions. We would have to put a throw rug over that area for a while as we traveled, but she also knew it was an opportunity to replace the original carpet, which she did not like to begin with. We also had to stop to get the motorhome inspected and a new sticker in the windshield. With those things out of the way, we were finally ready to get on the road.

About three in the afternoon we settled in at the Village RV Park in Nacogdoches, TX. Kathi felt the park was a little rustic for her taste, but it was what I expected. After all, Nacogdoches was my home town and I grew up thinking rustic.

It was a nice cool afternoon and I drove Kathi around town showing Kathi all the schools I attended and all the houses I lived in in the town. My grandparents old homes and my Aunt Bertha's home were always places I drove by when in town. I had a lot of fond memories from the town and being there always reminded me I was a country boy at heart.

The brick streets downtown around the original post office, the Stephen F. Austin University campus and the Old Stone Fort were some of the sites we visited in town. The Harris Hotel Courts on US 59 is another place I always visit. My Grandfather Harris built and owned the motel when they lived in Nacogdoches. I even lived there for a year, while Mom and Dad managed the place.

A lot of fine memories, but we were RV travelers and getting into any town was just a place to stop to plan and get ready to move on down the road again – and we were ready.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Christmas at the Lake

Today I am discussing Kathi and my 2015 Christmas adventure.

We have been staying at Green Caye in Dickinson, TX for the last year, so Kathi and I decided to get out of town for a few days and spend Christmas at Cedar Breaks Park on Lake Georgetown. The weather was great, so it seemed like a good time to travel. The evening of Saturday night on December 12th I logged on to and found us a site available at Lake Georgetown, for the period of December 22-27. A couple of days later we discovered we could get away sooner than the 22nd, so Kathi got back on and scheduled us December 17-21. She tried to get the same site I had booked, but it was not available, but we did find one nearby that still allowed us to look out the windshield of our motorhome at a lake view.

We took our normal route, north on Texas 146 from Bacliff to La Porte, then west on Texas 225 until we got to Loop 610. We went north on the Loop and then west around the Loop to where it meets US 290. Then we went WNW on 290 through Jersey Village, Prairie View, Hempstead, Chappell Hill, Brenham and Elgin. We left US 290 about 10 miles east of Austin and took toll road Texas 130 until it dead-ended at I-35. A mile or so north on the I-35 feeder we turned back west on Texas 195 for a couple of miles, then south on Shell Road to Cedar Breaks Park.

There was a lot of construction beginning where US 290 intersects the west side of Loop 610 and the construction went on for miles and miles. The narrow lanes are nerve racking for me driving the RV, as I had to pay close attention to staying in my lane. That’s not too bad for 5 miles or so, but it gets more tedious the longer it goes on. Kathi winced each time we passed an 18-wheeler or they passed us. She claimed she could touch them from her window. I did not think it was that close, but it was okay with me when she suggested a different route home.

View from my front door

Panning to the right from my front door.

We spent the December 17-21 in site 26 at Cedar Breaks. We spent most of our time inside the RV enjoying the view and relaxing. The weather was great and I enjoyed walking around taking a few pictures of the lake. We were running low on propane, so on Tuesday when we moved to site 22 we drove the RV west on Texas 29 to Liberty Hill and filled up our propane tank, then returned to Cedar Breaks.

Christmas dinner consisted of ham, dressing, mashed potatoes and gravy. It was a great meal and I had two helpings. I was too full for desert, so pecan pie had to wait until just before bedtime.

View down the side of our motorhome

A speedboat moving across the lake. Campers at Jim Hogg Park across the lake.
For our return trip we used TX 130 south then turned east on TX 71 through Bastrop, Smithville, La Grange and Columbus. We tried to go to the Buc-ees in Bastrop, but it was too crowded. There were two left turn lanes into Buc-ees and both were full and had traffic blocked for a mile behind us. We skipped the Buc-ees experience for this trip – maybe next time. The good thing is Kathi liked the new route much better, so that will be the route we take for future trips from the Houston area to the Austin area.

It was nice being together and enjoying Christmas. I think the short trip also gave Kathi confidence that I had a few more driving miles in me, so we can continue the RV lifestyle.

Boat is moving right along.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Thoughts at Christmas

I want to wish a Merry Christmas to all my friends, blog readers and Facebook friends.

As I reflect on my life, as many people do at this time of year, I would like to re-state some unoriginal thoughts. I think they are appropriate for whatever God to whom you pray or whether you believe in no god.

"... our forefathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal."

I still think "peace on earth and good will toward everyone" are worthy goals for all of us.

A special thanks to my wife, Kathi, who I love dearly. Thank you for loving me. Thank you for putting up with me. Thank you for all your sacrifices to hold our family together.

Merry Christmas to all.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Near Thanksgiving 2005

Today I am continuing our 2005 travel year story.  

My last post had us arriving at the Green Caye RV Park in Dickinson, TX on November 19, 2005. It was a Saturday night and Kathi spent the evening letting everyone know she was back in the Houston area.

We actually never thought of ourselves as being from Houston. Kathi left Guthrie, OK at an early age and moved to Pasadena, TX where she grew up and went to high school. I was born in Nacogdoches, TX and my family lived all over Texas as I was growing up, with Nacogdoches as a home base. My family lived in Victoria, Orange, West Orange, San Antonio, Pasadena, Mount Pleasant and Galena Park. We got to stay in Galena Park for all three years I was in high school.

After Kathi and I were married, we lived in Pasadena and South Houston for short periods of time before settling in Deer Park for about 40 years. When we were in Texas, we told everyone we were from the Deer Park/Pasadena area. When traveling out of state we usually told people we were from the Houston area, since it took less explanation.

Sunday we had lunch with my sister, Carol and her husband Lloyd Jackson. Sunday night we had dinner with Kathi’s brother, Carl and his wife Cheryn. It was a fun, busy day. Monday we did our laundry in the morning and had lunch with Kathi’s mother and step-father, Jim Hathaway in the afternoon. It was nice to be back with family.

We stayed home the next two days doing some housework and reading. We got a call from my sister that Lloyd’s mother was in the hospital. They suspect she had a stroke.

Thanksgiving day we were at John and Shanna Clark’s home for the holiday festivities. Most of the family was in attendance. We did miss both our boys being there. AJ was living in San Francisco and Christopher was on duty in Iraq.

Friday we visited with my sister in their RV. Carol and Lloyd were in the area for year end, just as we were. Lloyd’s mother, Mrs. Jackson was still in the hospital, having more tests run.

Saturday we had rain all day and all night. The rain sounded good hitting the top of our motorhome, but the high humidity in the Houston area was always an issue with us. I think the heat and humidity had my sinuses having fits year round when we lived in that area all the time.

We had lunch at Las Hadas in Deer Park. Their enchiladas were always my favorite of any we had around the country. After lunch Kathi and I visited with her mother and Jim. I spent a little time trying to speed up Jim’s internet connection time on his computer and had a little success. Everything felt like it did before we retired. We felt right at home. 

Friday, December 18, 2015

Waltzing Across West Texas

Today, I am relating another episode of our 2005 travel year.

We left the Sunny Acres RV Park in Las Cruces, NM on Thursday, November 17, 2005 and moved into the Parkview RV Park in Fort Stockton, Texas -- finally back in Texas. It was only about 30 miles from Las Cruces to the Texas border and we made it into El Paso early in the day. There is normally mucho traffic in El Paso, so we were glad to get through the city during low-traffic hours. Total trip for the day was just under 300 miles east on I-10. We were only staying in Fort Stockton for one night, so we did not even unhook our car from our motorhome, so we would be ready to travel with morning coffee. Rates were only $11 per day so I had mixed emotions about not staying longer. Kathi was anxious to see her mother and I was anxious to please Kathi, so one night was enough.

We actually did wake up early Friday and headed out as soon as we got dressed and made coffee. We did not have a coffee maker at the time and were drinking instant coffee heated in the microwave. Brewing two cups at the same time saved us almost two minutes of prep time. We were ready to roll. Our next stop was at the Miller Creek RV Park in Johnson City. The trip for the day was about 290 miles. We drove east on I-10 until we passed Segovia, then we left I-10 behind as it drifted further south and we drove due east on US 290 toward Johnson City. The weather was great, the scenery was great in the rolling hill country and Kathi and I were also great. We had a blast with the roller coaster effect on the country roads as we neared Johnson City. There was a lot of open laughter inside our Alfa motorhome that Friday afternoon.

Kathi did not want to eat in again that evening, so we drove into Blanco and had dinner at the Rocking R Steak House. It turned out to be an excellent choice as our steaks were tender and delicious.

Again, we got up early on Saturday morning and we drove east on US 290 to Austin, then south and east on Texas 71 to Columbus. We left Columbus on I-10 for the drive into Houston. We got on the Sam Houston Parkway (Beltway 8) when we reached it. The Parkway is a toll road, but well worth the price on that day. This was our third day in a row travelling all day long and I had to remind Kathi I was retired. Less traffic and faster movement on the chosen route was greatly appreciated. We left the beltway when we reached I-45, then drove to the Green Caye RV Park in Dickinson.

I was glad that we were going to be stationary for a while and Kathi was glad to be near her family again. Just being in the vicinity was a good feeling for her. Green Caye felt like home on arrival. Of course when we move in the motorhome, we are always at home. I always recommend travelling with your own bed and own bathroom. We were already spoiled.

Below are Houston area skyline pictures from our archives.

There are many areas around Houston that look like they could be our downtown.

Picture taken from I-10 entering Houston from the west.

A skyline scene taken across Rice Stadium from a medical building in the Medical Center.

Another scene looking south from the Medical Center.

Another view from the Medical Center looking south.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Las Cruces Re-Visited

Today I am relating another trip from our past. Saturday, November 12, 2005 we left the Benson I-10 RV Park in Benson, AZ and moved on a scenic drive east on I-10 to Las Cruces, NM, where we moved into the Sunny Acres RV Park. It was a 220-mile trip, but very relaxing. It was cool and sunny and we were in no hurry. We were headed back to Texas and Las Cruces put us in striking distance, so we were just having a good time traveling. We had dinner at home and stayed in for the evening. Rates at Sunny Acres were $21 per day, which we considered reasonable, so we planned to stay for a few days.

Nice motorhome at Sunny Acres

Sunday was laundry day for us. Kathi asked our Escapees mail service to forward our mail to us on Friday. We were hoping it would arrive on Monday, so we could move into Texas. Kathi was anxious to see her mother and the rest of her family. The temperature was so cool doing laundry did not seem to be a chore. We were still glad when it was all done and clothing stored away for moving.

Mountains near Las Cruces

Another scene near Las Cruces
Building around Las Cruces
Monday we took a car trip north on I-25, then east on US 70, across the Organ Mountains to the White Sands National Monument. It was a long slow climb up to the mountain pass. We found the road to the dunes was closed because the military was doing missile testing. It was interesting to see the procedures and interesting that we never saw a missile in flight or heard any explosions. We turned around and headed back to Las Cruces and discovered our mail had not arrived.

Fence in White Sands

Beautiful white sand dune
The mail still had not arrived on Tuesday and Kathi decided not to have the mail delivered to Las Cruces in the future. It always took twice as long to get there as it did in most other places we traveled through. The weather was still great, so we drove around town for a little sightseeing.

The mail arrived on Wednesday and we started making plans to get on down the road to Fort Stockton, TX on Thursday. The temperature was in the 30s in the early morning and the high for the day was in the 60s with great sunshine. What a great life to spend with Kathi on the road.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Olecranon Bursitis

I have not written in a few days, so I am going to take a few minutes to itemize my excuses. When I was writing my short stories a couple of years ago, I never needed an excuse not to write. It seems that writers have a built in excuse called a “mental block” or “writer’s block.” I always translated that to “I can’t get any of these ideas in my brilliant mind to come to the surface.” Or, “It’s right on the tip of my tongue, but I can’t say it.” Well, a poor filing system in my brain is not going to be my excuse for not blogging the last week. My excuses are simpler than that.

My right elbow is sore – yes still sore. I went to the doctor to get some medication for inflammation of the elbow. Kathi and I were out of town, so I went to one of the Urgent Care Clinics that are sprouting up everywhere. I was able to see a nurse practitioner that told me I had a problem with the olecranon bursa in my right elbow. She told me they normally use a needle to drain the fluid out of the bursa, but mine did not feel mushy, like fluid was involved. She consulted her computer and found the latest medication prescribed for my condition was Celecoxib, an arthritis medication. I have been taking it for a few days without any apparent change.

So, today, I gave up on the idea that the inflammation would go away and decided to use stronger pain meds to allow me to type on my computer – at least long enough to post a blog.

Kathi and I have been helping with her brother, Larry Clark who is in recovery from leukemia. He is still weak from the weight loss resulting from the treatment causing lack of taste and no saliva in his mouth. He needs to put on about 40 pounds. His daughter Amy Whitaker came to town for Thanksgiving and stayed a couple of weeks after. Kathi and I took advantage of her being here with her dad and we headed out of town for a few days.

I got a speeding ticket ten days ago on South Shore Harbor between League City Parkway and Highway 646. League City police are parked on side streets of the new sub-division several days a week and I knew that. I got behind a parade of cars going 30 in a 35 mph speed zone and in my aggravation and zeal to get around them, I was clocked at 51 mph. An error in judgement and a moment of frustration cost Kathi $149. I am sure she will pay my fine for me. Kathi, are you reading this?

Thanksgiving with the family was fun and it was nice to see some relatives we seldom see. As families spread out following jobs and raising their own families it is hard to get together. When I was young we had family reunions occasionally. That seems like so long ago now. Nowadays we just get together with the members that are available, knowing everyone cannot attend.

Kathi and I are planning to spend a quiet Christmas with our oldest son AJ. We are all looking forward to that in a week or so. I hope you are all enjoying the end of year holiday periods with your families.

Kristine letting Cash Phillip Clark say hello to Grandpa Larry.

Cash with Shanna Clark

Matt Clark holding new son, Cash. Matt is about 6' 5".

Red pickup we saw at All American garage on 146 in Seabrook.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

East to Phoenix - Mesa

A few years ago on a Friday morning Kathi and I had visited both sons in California and were ready to return to Texas for yearend holidays. It was November 4, 2005 and our first stop was to be in Mesa, AZ. The trip for the day was about 300 miles, moving east from Twentynine Palms on CA 62 then south on CA 177, until we hit I-10. Then we moved east on I-10 until we got to the Good Life RV Park in Mesa. It was another beautiful drive with mountains all around. There was hardly any traffic until we got near Phoenix. Mesa is just east and adjoined to Phoenix.

We had to drive through Phoenix at four pm with Friday afternoon going-home-from-work traffic. We slowed to creeper speed with winding roads and narrow lanes. I must have had trouble keeping Alfa in our lane, because more than one truck driver honked at me. I used my mirrors to check stripes in the road and I was driving pretty much on the stripes on each side – the lanes were way too narrow for me. This was a six lane road in each direction – a lot of vehicles. I am glad I do not use that highway every day.

We finally arrived at the RV park and I was really glad to park. The park had over 1,200 back-in spaces. The park was filled with mostly senior citizens. We found out later that there are a lot of big parks in the Phoenix/Mesa area. It seems that many snowbirds spend the winter in Phoenix.

We spent most of the weekend at home, but still managed to do some sightseeing. The weather was cool at night and got warmer as the day progressed. All-in-all beautiful sightseeing weather. There was a lot to see in Mesa and even more in Phoenix and we did not even make a dent in our sightseeing desires. We may try again someday.

We had an appointment on Monday morning at Earnhardt’s RV to repair or replace our ice maker and a defective windshield wiper under our extended warranty. We were not looking forward to staying in a hotel. When we explained our RV was our home they were very gracious and let us take our RV home at the end of the day. We took it in at nine am and picked it up at five pm.

We moved to the Val Vista RV Park Monday night, since it was closer to Earnhardt’s. We were back in the shop at nine am Tuesday morning to complete repairs. They were very efficient and were nice people to do business with. We recommend Earnhardt’s to anyone that needs RV service in the Mesa area.

We spent two more days at Val Vista and then we were ready to move along. Thursday, November 10, 2005 we moved to the Benson I-10 RV Park in Benson, AZ. We like this park because it affords easy access to and from I-10. You can see the park from the highway. Another great drive with mountains as a backdrop in every direction. The weather was great, even with the constant wind blowing.

We had another RV just like our Alfa See Ya parked right next to us. That is unusual, since we do not see a lot of them. We spent Friday at home doing a little light house work and getting ready to travel to Las Cruces on Saturday.

I do not have any pictures of the Phoenix and Mesa area, but Arizona has a lot to offer. The first three photos are in Monument Valley and the other three I took at the Grand Canyon.

Left and Right Mittens

One of my favorite pictures. Arizona highway 163 through Monument Valley.

The Thumb

Grand Canyon visitors on a ledge.

A view down the canyon.

Unusual rock formations in the Canyon.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Return to Twentynine Palms

Today’s post is a continuation of our 2005 travel year experience. Picking up on Saturday, October 29, 2005, Kathi, Christopher and I left AJ and the San Francisco area and headed back to Twentynine Palms. It was a beautiful sun-shiny morning with cool air, making a pleasant drive to Bakersfield and the Bakersfield KOA. The KOA was about 20 miles off the highway, but we felt like the best stopping point for the night.

Yacht at the San Francisco Yacht Club
Sunday we drove back through Apple Valley and back to Twentynine Palms. We used US 395 out of Bakersfield, then south on CA 14 to Palmdale, then turned east on CA 18 through Victorville and Apple Valley. Kathi and I agreed the route through Apple Valley was much more pleasant than the mountainous route further west that we had used a few times before traveling on I-5 to I-210 and then east on I-10.

Someone sleeping on the grass near the Yacht Club
Christopher was glad to be back in the barracks and with his friends at the Marine Base. He was 30 years old at the time and spending too much time with his parents got to be a drag. I do not blame him. After my time in the Army, I could not go home again – I had to create my own home. Luckily, Kathi and I found each other.

View of the water near the Yacht Club from a hill across the street 
Monday we picked Christopher up at the barracks and took him into Twentynine Palms so he could sign up for cable TV. We spent the next few days at home getting ready to travel. We were planning on leaving town before the weekend. We had a problem with brake lights on the motorhome transferring the signal to our tow vehicle. I spent a little time troubleshooting the problem and had to rewire my cable connectors.

Thursday night Christopher came over for dinner. After dinner we took him to the grocery store. He had been on vacation for three weeks and was ready to get back to work. That fit well with us, as we were ready to get back on the road. It was getting to be end of the year holiday time and time for us to return to Texas.

Marine Boot Camp in San Diego January 2003

More marines at boot camp

Graduation ceremony for boot camp

Saturday, November 28, 2015

29 to San Francisco

Today I am continuing the progress of our 2005 travel year, picking up on October 25, 2005. It was a Tuesday and we spent the day traveling from the 29 Palms Golf Resort and RV Park, taking a scenic drive through Apple Valley and moving into the Boulder Creek RV Park in Lone Pine, CA. The trip was about 250 miles and we expected to be on the road between four and five hours, depending on traffic. Kathi and I were taking our youngest son, Christopher with us to visit our oldest, AJ in San Francisco. Christopher slept on the couch for much of the trip.

We took CA 62 west from Twentynine Palms to Joshua Tree, then north on CA 247 to Lucerne Valley where we switched to CA 18 to get to Apple Valley. I always wanted to see Apple Valley, because this is where Roy Rogers and Dale Evans had their ranch. They had both been dead for several years, so visiting the ranch was not as important to me as just being in the area. Nostalgia is a strange thing. We left Apple Valley and crossed I-15 at Victorville. We took US 395 out of Victorville and on into Lone Pine.

We were only in Lone Pine for one night on this trip. The weather was great and the mountains are always pleasant viewing. From Lone Pine we could see Mount McKinley which is the highest mountain in the contiguous United States and several other peaks nearby are almost as tall. If you want to read more about Lone Pine, you can see the blog I posted on February 27, 2015 titled Lone Pine. That post discusses the time we were in Lone Pine in October 2003. That trip we were moving south and this time we were moving north.

The next morning we left Lone Pine and drove through the Tioga Pass which led us into Yosemite National Park. This was an arduous journey, winding through the beautiful forested mountains. Yosemite is a place to visit and enjoy, not a place to drive through. We thought we might return someday when we had more time to spend in the area.

We talked to our oldest son, AJ while we were traveling and arranged for him to catch the Cal Train to Redwood City, which was our destination for the day. We got situated in the Trailer Villa San Mateo and parked our RV, then we met AJ at the train depot. We all had dinner together at Red Lobster, after which AJ spent the night with us in our RV. It was a little crowded, but we were glad to be together.

City Hall

Flowers on lamp posts

On Thursday, we drove into San Francisco to look around for a while. The weather was great, as usual. We had lunch at Olive Garden, then dropped AJ & Christopher off at AJ’s apartment. They were going to meet some of AJ’s friends in the evening and we were going home to rest and relax.

Jam-packed city of San Francisco

All building are close together

A few high rise buildings
Friday we drove in to take AJ to the grocery store. The guys apparently had a good time the previous evening. After grocery shopping and getting groceries put away we began thinking of the return trip to get Christopher back to the Marines in Twentynine Palms.

Overview of Fisherman's Wharf and Alcatraz

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Thanksgiving Season

Today’s post is an update on current activities.

Kathi and I are at the Green Caye RV Park in Dickinson, Texas. We migrated here November 25, 2014. This is the first time since we started traveling that we have stayed at the same location for a year. We have spent a good deal of the time helping Kathi’s brother Larry Clark’s effort to overcome his leukemia. His wife Andrea is still working so Kathi and I have been staying with Larry in the daytime when he needs assistance and taking him to the clinic at Methodist Hospital for routine blood draws to assess his recovery status.

Larry has been in the hospital this week with a recurring bout of pneumonia. Hopefully, he is going to be released today, dependent on his blood results, to spend Thanksgiving with his family. Dr. Kamble (pronounced Cam-blay) is his bone marrow transplant doctor and lead doctor on his hospital stay.

Depression is always an issue with long-term illnesses and Larry is no different from other people. Dr. Kamble is more concerned with Larry’s mental health and that concern is greater than the physical health issue at this time. So maybe Larry will be home for Thanksgiving.

Larry’s daughter Amy Whitaker and her son Sean are in town from Kansas for Thanksgiving and other family members from around Texas will be here. Amy will be in town for about three weeks.

Kathi and I finally got the Michelin tires we have been awaiting for three months. We were supposed to get them from Canada, but Canada had to get them from Europe. They did not give us a price discount for the delay. They were also supposed to do a state inspection, but could not get the turn indicators to work. They worked after we got home, so I do not know for sure what the problem was. Monday I drove over to Freightliner to get a new flasher, just in case that was causing an intermittent problem. We went to Red’s Tire in Bacliff for an inspection yesterday and we found out my insurance card was out of date, so we had to return home to get on the computer and print out a new insurance card before we could get the inspection.

Our Alfa motorhome registration expired in July and I wanted to get a new registration sticker yesterday, so I went to the Galveston County Tax office yesterday to register. They informed me that since our permanent address is in Livingston, I would have to go to Polk Country to register. We opted to come home and register on the internet. As soon as we get a receipt in my e-mail, we will be able to travel at will.

We went to Honey Baked yesterday and picked up an eleven pound spiral sliced ham to go with the Turkey for Thanksgiving. Today, Kathi is making deviled eggs, green bean casserole and a corn casserole for Thanksgiving at Larry’s tomorrow.

I am wishing a Happy Thanksgiving for everyone. Peace.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Circus Circus

We are staying at the Green Caye RV Park in Dickinson, TX for an extended period of time and while we are here, I have been relating some of our previous travel adventures. Today I am continuing our 2005 travel story. I left off with us in Palm Springs with our son Christopher, Frankie Cauthorn, Jason Kepner and Frankie’s parents. We spent a couple of fun days together, celebrating the Marines being back in the USA from Iraq.

Sunday, October 9th, 2005 Christopher, Kathi and I returned to our RV in Twentynine Palms. Christopher spent the night with us and slept on the couch in our RV. We were all tired from the weekend activities and I am sure the Marines had not adjusted from the time differences from their trip from Iraq to California. Monday morning Kathi and I were up early and enjoyed watching Christopher sleeping hard on the couch. It was good to see him safe with us again.

Meanwhile, back in San Francisco, AJ’s hand was not getting better and he returned to the doctor to get it re-wrapped. He was still having a lot of pain in his hand and the doctor was not very sympathetic about it.

We took Christopher and a couple of his Marine friends running errands in Twentynine Palms on the base and in the town. The Marines were taking a one week leave beginning the following Monday, October 17th.  We were planning to take Christopher on a trip to Las Vegas with us for a few days.

Monday we left Twentynine Palms moving east, then north on Amboy Road. At Amboy we turned east on The National Trails Highway, also called CA 66 at this section of road. Just before Fenner CA 66 split off from the National Trails Highway and became Goffs Road. We stayed on CA 66 until it dead ended on US 95, which we followed north into Las Vegas. The trip was about 200 miles and took us a little more than three hours.

In Las Vegas we had rooms reserved at Circus Circus. We had stayed there several time twenty years earlier. There were many things we recognized and a few changes to the casino and the d├ęcor, but it was familiar ground. Christopher had a few good wins, but mostly we just had a good time being together. Three days is always enough time for Las Vegas and we were all exhausted again for our drive back to 29.

We spent the next week around 29 running errands with the Marines. Christopher picked up his dress blue uniform and it looked great. They were getting ready for the Marine Corps Ball in early November. The Marine Corps birthday is November 11th.

October 23, 2005 was our 41st anniversary. We were happy and felt we had already done our celebrating early.

Next stop: Lone Pine

Sunday, November 15, 2015

The Marines Have Landed

It was Tuesday, September 27, 2005 and Kathi and I were in Twenty nine Palms awaiting Christopher’s return from Iraq. We found out he would be in Kuwait on October 2nd, so we knew we would be seeing the Marines soon. Andrew Harris and Christopher were best friends and roommates for a good portion of their time in Twentynine Palms. Kathi found out Andrew’s family was in town, so we drove out to the base to meet them. Andrew and five other Marines that had deployed with him had arrived in town a week ahead of Christopher. We had a nice chat with Andrew’s family and it was really good to see Andrew again. He got to hold his daughter for the first time and I am glad we were there to see that.

The next day Kathi and I took a drive around the neighborhood. Since there is not a lot of entertainment in Twentynine Palms, we almost always drove further west on CA 62 through Joshua Tree and Yucca Valley, then off the high desert plateau into the Morongo Valley. We bypassed Desert Hot Springs and hit I-10 near North Palm Springs. This day we went a few miles further west on I-10 to the Morongo Casino. The buffet was mediocre and too expensive and we had no luck at all playing their slot machines. We lost our play money and headed back to our Alfa motorhome.

We spent most of the next week trying to stay cool and reading a lot. We finally heard from Christopher again on Tuesday, October 4th. He was finally in Kuwait. We were glad to hear from him and glad he was out of Iraq and in a safer country. Their plan was to arrive in 29 sometime on Thursday.

Kathi talked to AJ on Wednesday and he had an accident with a revolving door and had a black eye and a fractured hand. His vision impairment caused him to have some unusual accidents over the years. He sounded okay, but a fractured hand was a real pain in more ways than one.

Our Marine final arrived in 29 about 7 pm. We got to watch them as they marched into Victory Field where we and other parents and family members were awaiting them. Many families were unable to be there, so we and the other parents greeted several Marine buddies along with our own. We felt it was important for all of them to feel wanted and we certainly appreciated their service and especially how they took care of one another.

We waited a few hours for them to be dismissed from formation, get their gear squared away, take a shower and be ready to travel. We headed to Palm Springs with Christopher, Frankie Cauthorn and Jason Kepner. They had a great time playing Jason’s “system” on a video roulette machine. They all managed to stay even for several hours and occasionally won a large amount of money, compared to the size of their wagers.  It was a great evening of fun with the Marines.

Friday and Saturday, Frankie’s parents were in town and we had some enjoyable time together socializing with them and our Marines. We had some meal time and casino time and it was all so enjoyable, seemingly for all of us. There was a lot of elation having all their Marine friends safely back in the USA.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Family Health Update

Kathi and I are doing fine. Our boys are well also. AJ is in Austin, Christopher is in Pasadena and Kathi and I are staying at the Green Caye RV Park in Dickinson.

The last report I made on family illness, Kathi's stepfather, Jim Hathaway was in the hospital with pneumonia and a urinary tract infection. He was moved from Patient's Hospital in Pasadena last week to the Kindred Nursing Home across the beltway from the hospital. Early this morning he passed away from the pneumonia from which he was unable to recover. Jim has been a member of the Clark family for 45 of his 86 years – a long blessed life. He will be missed by all of us. His funeral is Friday at 2:00 pm at the Paul U Lee Funeral Home in La Porte, TX.

Jim's Children, Rick Hathaway, Becky Boyd and Jon Hathaway have been seeing to Jim's care at the hospital and nursing home. They also made funeral arrangements.

Kathi's brother Larry Clark was in the Methodist Hospital recovering from pneumonia brought on by his weakened condition while recovering from leukemia. Larry has since been released from the hospital and returned home, only visiting the clinic two days per week. Kathi and I took him to the clinic on Thursday. He is still weak and we use a wheel chair to get him around the clinic. At home he is able to get round using a walker, but we watch him pretty close. His legs do not support him if he stands for too long.

Saturday we got a call from Larry that his wife, Andrea was having severe stomach pain. We came over and found her laying flat on the floor at the foot of her bed trying to find a position that would relieve the pain. Pain medication on hand was little help. Andrea needed to go to the hospital for evaluation, but she could not walk. Kathi called an ambulance and had her transported to Patient's Hospital.

We were not very hopeful that the doctors would find the cause of the problem, because she had gone to the emergency room numerous times before and their best diagnosis was irritable bowel syndrome. This time they actually found a problem. Andrea had a obstruction caused by a hernia.

They called in a surgeon, Dr. Gelber. He operated on Andrea's stomach on Sunday afternoon. She is recovering in Patient's Hospital and will be there several more days.

In the meantime, Kathi and I are staying with Larry at his home. I stay with him when Kathi needs to go to the hospital to check on Andrea. Kathi has been using their spare bedroom for the last few days, since Andrea is away from home. I have been acting as gofer and staying in our RV in Dickinson at night.

Thanks for all the good wishes and prayers that have come our way. We appreciate all thoughts.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Biding Our Time in 29

Today I will continue our 2005 travel story, picking up on the week of September 12, 2005, with Kathi and me in Twentynine Palms, CA awaiting our son, Christopher and his fellow marines as they returned from Iraq. We had a few days to wait, but not sure how many, because the Marines never announce their travel plans.

Kathi was having some back problems and visited a chiropractor several times while we were in town. Kathi had back surgery a few years earlier and was still feeling the effects of the surgery. Some back pain and leg neuropathy had become routine. A chiropractor in Texas had been helpful to relieve the pain. After the third visit the chiropractor in Twentynine Palms suggest she take up yoga. Kathi assumed he did not want the short term business.

Wednesday we drove into Palm Springs to get some brake work done on our car. We had a good time looking around the area. All the green grass and colorful flowers were so much different from the desert atmosphere and appearance in 29 just about 30 miles away. We saw water sprinklers everywhere in Palm Springs. The golf courses were especially pleasing to the eye.

We visited the Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio, CA and had a great time. How could I not have a good time with Kathi in a casino? I think the casinos are her favorite places in the world. We both managed to double our allowance of play money and actually took it home with us.

We had lunch at the casino buffet. They had a nice selection of choices for lunch. Kathi had chili rellenos and said they were the best she had tasted since we had Mexican food in Van Horn, TX.

We tried to ignore the news in Iraq as much as possible and certainly did not dwell on it when our son was in country, but it was hard to avoid the news of the young men being killed every day. A bad situation. We were very proud of Christopher for being willing to put himself in harm's way to protect our country. We finally got a call from Christopher on Saturday and it was a relief to hear from him. He sounded good and his spirits were high,but he was anxious to return to the states as much as we wanted him to be here.

Monday the 19th it rained most of the night. Rain pattering on the roof of the RV reminded me of being at my grandmother's house in Nacogdoches, TX. She had a tin roof which always made the rain sound louder. Rain in the desert is always pleasant.

Our oldest son, AJ called to let us know his application had been accepted to San Francisco State. He would be returning to school in January to complete his education. More good news was always welcome.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Hospitals and Thanksgiving

I have been lax in my writing the last two weeks and I apologize to the readers. Between Kathi being sick and trips to two hospitals to see Kathi’s brother and step-father, I have not been able to settle into my normal routine. Kathi is back to normal, which helps.

Kathi’s brother, Larry Clark is in Methodist Hospital. He had pneumonia and was unable to fight it off because of his lack of an immune system due to the acute myeloid leukemia. He is still in remission from the leukemia, but has lost 20 pounds the last two weeks in the hospital. He is down about 60 pounds from his desired weight. He is very weak, but wants to go home anyway. The doctors may make a decision any day now.

Kathi’s step-father, Jim Hathaway is in Patients Hospital in Pasadena. He went to the hospital with pneumonia and a urinary tract infection. He is having trouble getting enough oxygen. Jim is 86 and his prognosis is guarded. Jim’s children, Rick Hathaway, Becky Boyd and Jon Hathaway visit Jim every day and have been helping doctors and nurses with Jim’s care at the hospital.

That’s enough medical news.

Kathi and I are still awaiting the arrival of six Michelin tires at the La Porte Tire Center. We are expecting a call from them any day now. They have been on order for about two months. It is past time to re-register our motorhome, which I could not do until we got it inspected. It could not pass inspection without at least two new tires. Any day now, I am sure all this will be behind us.

The rain the last few days left a stain on the ceiling in our motorhome. There is a small hole somewhere on our roof near the pantry that allows water to get inside. My brother-in law, Lloyd Jackson patched a small leak in the same area a few months ago and we made it through two rain storms with no leaks, then came the big rain last week and we sprung another leak in the same area. RV’s are just like with houses – repairs are continuous.

I talked to our son, AJ in Austin yesterday to confirm he is coming to stay with us over the Thanksgiving weekend. Larry is really looking forward to having the family over to his house on Thanksgiving Day. Kathi and Andrea discussed the menu while we were at the hospital yesterday. Everyone pitches in to bring food to the occasion. Kathi ordered a honey baked ham this morning that we will pick up a couple of days ahead of time and hopefully avoid the rush at the Honey Baked store. I am really looking forward to having AJ with us this Thanksgiving.

Marigolds near the entrance of Patients Hospital.

Virginia and Jim Hathaway about 15 years ago.

Jim Hathaway a few years ago.

A thin Larry Clark at Methodist Hospital.

Jim Hathaway earlier this year.

Jim Hathaway in the hospital last week.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

To See the Marines

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My last post, I left off with Kathi, AJ and I at the Sequoia National Park. AJ thought it was like a magical forest. I guess I feel the same. You do not see many trees that tall in other parts of the country. I remember some tall pine trees in east Texas, but none with the height of the redwoods in California or the girth and volume of the sequoias. I will never forget the picture I took of AJ standing with his six foot seven inch frame with a felled sequoia root system behind him. He was dwarfed by the tree. Losing my camera was trivial compared to losing that picture. It was a special day for all of us.

We put AJ on the bus back to San Francisco and we prepared to leave for Twentynine Palms, CA to see the marines as they arrived back from Iraq. The date was September 3, 2005 and it was a Saturday. We left the Visalia/Fresno KOA in Visalia and headed south on CA 99 through Tulare and Bakersfield. We were following directions from our Copilot software and ended up going through Los Angeles. Even on Saturday traffic was atrocious. Going around the mountains and up and down the mountains – all the while knowing we were headed the wrong direction was exasperating, but I was hesitant to turn around not knowing if I would find a better route, so we trudged on following the GPS directions.

We did see some big farms and fruit or nut orchards alongside the road in the Delano and Bakersfield area. Farms are always a pleasure to see, but I wish we knew more about agriculture so I could recognize what was growing. I recognize corn and cotton and not much else.

We passed a grassfire burning on both sides of the highway. We tried to stay in the center of the highway, but could still feel the heat from the fire inside the motorhome. Talk about a scary feeling. Fire crews and police support was great keeping the highway open and keeping motorists from getting caught in the blaze. We were escorted through the fire area by a guide vehicle. It felt adventurous, but is not an experience we are eager to repeat.

We finally got to Twentynine Palms and set up at the 29 Palms Golf Resort and RV Park. We had a few weeks to wait before the marines returned. We spent the time grocery shopping, catching up on laundry and reading. We stayed inside out of the heat as much as possible. It was still warm in the desert.

We got a call from Christopher and he had just completed a mission in Abu Ghraib and Fallujah. He thought that would be his last mission before returning the USA. We hoped it would be and felt the marines deployed with him would all return safe. We were ready to see them

Click on pictures to enlarge them. 

Pistachio tree in Visalia

Evergreen trees in Yosemite, as seen from a mountain top.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Wine and Sequoias

Kathi and I are still at the Green Caye RV Park in Dickinson, TX. We have been here since just before Thanksgiving last year. We still have a few commitments here, so will be here for a while longer. We may take a week off to go to see Dick Albritton in Choudrant, LA to get some RV repair work done in the next couple of months. We are still awaiting arrival of our new Michelin tires at The La Porte Tire Center. We have been waiting for two months, so far.

Meanwhile, I will get back to our 2005 travel story. In my post ten days ago, I left off on August 18, 2005, with Kathi and me visiting our son, AJ in San Francisco and seeing Alcatraz and Fisherman’s Wharf. We were going to be in San Francisco until the end of August, so we still had more things to see.

We spent Friday at home and got a call from our youngest son, Christopher who was deployed in Iraq with the Marines. He told us he had only five or six weeks left on this tour before he would return home. We were anxious to get him back in the USA in a safer environment and looking forward to seeing him.

On Monday, August 22 we picked AJ up at his apartment and drove to Napa and Sonoma to see the vineyards. The vines were full of grapes. We could not see the actual grapes driving by the vineyards. We had to stop and get out so we could peek underneath the leaves of the grape vines. Grapes were in big bunches, so we assumed it was going to be a good year for wine. It was a little warmer than usual, but a beautiful sun-shiny day.

We drove back into the city and were looking for a place we could all agree on for lunch. We finally stopped at a Mexican food restaurant in Pacifica and the food was really bad. Mexican food is just so much better in Texas. None the less, it was a fun day together and we got the opportunity to see some new things in the process.

Friday, we drove back into San Francisco to see the new furniture in AJ’s apartment. It filled up the rooms, but it all looked very nice. He and his mom made some good choices. We went to Olive Garden for lunch. It was another nice afternoon together.

Monday I spent preparing our motorhome for travel. Tuesday night AJ rode the Cal Train to Redwood City to spent the night with us, so we could travel together to see Sequoia National Park the next day. We moved to the Visalia South/Fresno KOA in Visalia, CA on Wednesday and got set up in the RV park. That park is near Sequoia and a good home base to park and drive to see the big trees. We had a good day Thursday looking at the big sequoia trees. I had some great pictures, but lost my camera on the trail to see the General Sherman tree. I really regret losing the camera, but losing the pictures was worse. We had a great afternoon and really enjoyed the open air, even if it was warmer then San Francisco.

We put AJ on a Greyhound bus back to his apartment and San Francisco on Friday. It was time for us to move along to see the Marines and time to let AJ get his life back to normal.

Grape vines on the hillside

Grape vines beside the road

Vineyard on the hill as seen through the windshield.

AJ sitting outside the restaurant

More grape vines

You can actually see the grapes at the bottom of these vines.