Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Update on Our Current Activities

It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood. My plan for today was to continue our 2005 adventure story and our trip to West Wendover, NV.  I got up after Kathi and she had already finished coffee and was ready to go to the local Kroger store. I had my Frosted Mini Spooners (sugar coated shredded wheat) breakfast while water was warming for my coffee. We have a coffee maker, but only use it when company comes over. We normally make our coffee one cup at a time in the morning. When I was working I drank coffee all day long, but have not done that since retirement. When Kathi returned from Kroger, she told me it was a beautiful day outside. I went out to bring the groceries inside and agreed with her assessment. So instead of the desert heat in Nevada, I am writing about current events while looking out the window of our RV.

Kathi and I are still at the Green Caye RV Park in Dickinson, TX. We have been here since November 25, 2014. This is the longest our RV has stayed in one spot since our retirement in May 2003. Just before coming here, we spent two months on Lake Georgetown visiting our oldest son, AJ in Austin. We are still in Texas with our family.

Kathi’s younger brother, Larry Clark is still in remission from leukemia. His major problem now is lack of taste and appetite, which is causing weight loss. The chemotherapy seems to kill people’s taste buds and stymie the function of saliva glands. He is drinking three liters of liquids per day and being infused with 1.5 liters of a saline solution with magnesium to replenish his magnesium loss from the chemo or other drugs he is taking. His immune system is about 30% of normal. Kathi and I take him to the clinic at Methodist Hospital on Thursdays to test his blood and adjust his meds as necessary.

Brandon is one of the excellent nurses on the Methodist Hospital 8th floor.

Larry napping. Infusion takes several boring hours.

Larry watching TV during infusion at Methodist Hospital.

Last Friday we made a one day trip to Austin to visit our oldest son, AJ. We would prefer to stay in our motorhome, but comparing the cost of diesel and RV parking against gasoline for our Jeep and a hotel room, it has been more cost effective to stay in a hotel in the past. We usually stay at Best Western in Austin, but they did not have any non-smoking rooms with a king sized bed. A room with two queens was $165 per night. We found a Best Western in Georgetown that was a little less expensive and got the room description we desired. With hotel room costs rising and diesel prices falling, it is now close to a toss-up whether to take the RV or the Jeep.

The RV was not an option for this trip, because we are still awaiting six Michelin tires to arrive at La Porte Tire Center. We were told the tires would take 4-5 weeks to arrive from Canada. It has been about a month, so Kathi called yesterday to check on delivery status. She found out the tires are in transit from England. Michelin is a French company, so England is a closer shipping spot for them. It would be nice if we could get lower corporate taxes soon so we can bring more businesses back to the USA.

Michelin tire with visible cracking.

Left side of our Alfa RV with 42 inch slide and awning extended.

Right side of our Alfa motorhome with awning extended.

I will return to my 2005 travel story about the trip to Wendover in my next post.

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Sunday, September 27, 2015

I-80 across Wyoming

Today I am continuing our 2005 travel history on July 27th, which was a beautiful Wednesday morning. We departed The Greeley RV Park in Greeley, CO and moved north on US 85 to Cheyenne, WY, then turned west on I-80 through Laramie, Elk Mountain and Sinclair, before reaching the RV World Campground in Rawlins, WY. Daily rate at the park was $14 which was great for us.

We were back in the mountains with some of them being snow-capped -- great sights to see. We had really strong winds along I-80. Steady winds normally did not bother me driving the RV, but some of the gusts rocked us pretty good. I did not mind, other than it slowed us down a little. I normally drove slower in high winds, no matter which direction they came from, mostly because it made Kathi feel better. We ate in and rested after our travel day and enjoyed the evening watching TV.

Wyoming is pretty much open country. We saw almost nothing off the highway between Cheyenne and Laramie and no cell phone service outside the larger cities.

After we parked and got our utilities and internet set up we discovered my first Social Security check had been deposited in my bank account. I had retired from Shell Chemical Company the end of May 2003, just after my 60th birthday. We were both glad all the discussions with the Social Security Administration had been beneficial and efficient.

Thursday morning we drove around Rawlings. We saw a lot of old building and the majestic mountains in the background. Within a few hours we had seen what there was to see and were ready to move along.

We left Rawlins on Friday morning going further west on I-80. We passed some communities so small they did not even have a post office. Rock Springs was the largest and it was not much to see, passing through it in about a minute. In Purple Sage I asked Kathi to look for the purple sage, but we saw none. I am not even sure Wyoming was the setting for the Zane Grey story, “Riders of the Purple Sage.” I will have to read it again to be sure.

Another special drive through the mountains to the Fort Bridger RV Park in Fort Bridger, WY. We paid $10 per night for two nights, then planned to head into Nevada. The trip was only about 175 miles and uneventful. There was not much to see in Fort Bridger, and we saw most of it getting to the RV park, so we stayed in for the evening. Then it rained on Saturday, so we spent that day inside, also. I think Kathi was reserving her energy and our cash money for West Wendover, NV and their welcoming casinos at our next stop.

Rabbit hiding in bushes at RV park.

Not my picture, but nice barn with mountains in background.

Not my picture- Buffalo grazing with Grand Tetons in background.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Greeley, Colorado

Today I am continuing the story of our 2005 travels. We awoke at the Shady Grove Campground in Seibert, CO on Sunday, July 24th and we drove west on I-70 past Limon, then jogged west and north, mostly on farm roads to get to Greeley, CO. We headed north before we got to Denver and the mountainous part of Colorado. The eastern side of Colorado is relatively flat and the west part of the state is dominated by the Rocky Mountains. I did not want to go into Denver so we could avoid the traffic. Still, we were moving up in elevation, which made it cooler, but we were avoiding the higher mountains that would slow us down. The trip was only about 160 miles, but we saw lots of farms growing mostly cabbage, corn and onions. There were other crops, but we did not recognize what was growing. We saw one fruit orchard, but did not know the trees. We always wonder why people do not put up signs to tell what they grow. I am sure the farmers would think we were ignorant for not knowing.

We stopped at the Greeley RV Park and it was okay, but nothing special. The daily rate was $24, which is more than we normally pay, but we decided to stay a few days anyway. We even found a spot with a shade tree that did not obstruct our internet or TV satellite dishes. A little shade part of the day made a lot of difference in the daytime temperature inside our motorhome. It was cool enough that we could leave our shades up and enjoy views of the outside world.

Our youngest son Christopher called in the afternoon. He said he was okay, but he sounded tired. Kathi reminded him that he only had two and a half months left on this deployment. In retrospect, I think that sounded short to us and long to him.

We awoke Monday morning and it was cool enough to turn off our air conditioner and open the windows. We love the wind blowing through and airing out the motorhome – it stays closed up for most of the year. In the afternoon we went to see “Batman Begins.” We both enjoyed the movie. We stopped by Walmart on the way home to stock up on food, realizing that our next few stops were in small Wyoming towns with no big grocery stores around.

The next day we went to Olive Garden for lunch. Kathi had chicken spiedini and I had pizza with pepperoni and Italian sausage. The chicken spiedini was not on the lunch menu, but Kathi remembered the dish and asked the waiter about it and the cook agreed to make it for her.

After lunch we went home and began preparation for our trip into the desolation of Wyoming. We were RV travelers and always eager to be on the road again.

I have no pictures from Greeley, but below are some flower pictures from around the country.

Sunflowers in Kroger grocery store in League City, Texas.

Snapdragons on League City Parkway.

Kathi's flowers on Polk Lane in Deer Park, Texas.

A hanging basket of flowers in Raymond, Washington.

Crimson red flowers on the Stanford campus.
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Friday, September 18, 2015

Then Eastern Colorado

Wednesday, July 20th of 2005 we awoke at the Lakeside RV Park in Assaria, KS, ready to move further north and west. We did not have a firm destination in mind, we were just RV travelers traveling. We were elated when we thought back about the new freedom we enjoyed compared to the years we were tied to jobs, schools, home ownership, child-rearing, property taxes, home repairs, etc. As RV travelers we were able to move at will and keep contact with family by phone.

Our son AJ was living independently in San Francisco, attending college and our youngest Christopher was in the Marines deployed to Iraq. AJ seemed to be having a good time living in San Francisco and that made us feel good also. We did have some concerns about Christopher in Iraq, but we tried not to dwell on it. As a father, I had confidence that he could take care of himself, but Kathi is his mother and like most mothers, her inclination was to be more protective of her sons. Additionally, Kathi’s mother was getting older and beginning to show signs of aging, so even though we felt free of movement we realized we had strong family ties that would hold us forever. That tempered our elation with a feeling of comfort.

We got up early and moved north on I-135 to Salina, KS, then east on I-70 toward Colorado. We crossed the KS-CO line and settled at the Shady Grove Campground in Seibert, CO. This was a long 325 mile trip on a hot summer day. We ran our generator so we could use our RV air conditioner while traveling. For our viewing pleasure we got to see corn fields, cattle herds, wheat fields and even several gorgeous sunflower fields on the trip. We loved it all, but the sunflowers added a lot of color to our trip and our lives. Even with the heat and the long day, the ride was exhilarating.

We stayed in for the evening, as we often do on travel days. We enjoyed relaxing, having a pre-prepared meal that only needed warming in the microwave and tv viewing to catch up on the news of the world.

It was over 100 degrees in July in eastern Colorado, so we did not spend much time outdoors.  We kept our shades down and fans going to supplement the basement air conditioner of our motorhome. We planned to stay for three days to rest and see the area and we were hoping our next stop would be a little cooler.

Next post: Greely

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Monday, September 14, 2015

Sunday at Joe's

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Today I am taking a break from our 2005 travel story to talk about our trip to Joe's Crab Shack on Sunday.

Kathi and I have suspended our RV travels for the time being to manage some family issues. We are parked at the Green Caye RV Park in Dickinson. We have been spending a lot of time during the week assisting Kathi's brother, Larry Clark in his battle against leukemia. We take him to Methodist Hospital on Mondays and Thursdays for blood tests and medical infusions. Other days during the week we are staying with Larry at his home, so we can administer sodium chloride – magnesium infusions. His wife, Andrea works during the week and spends weekends with Larry, so our help is not necessary.

Yesterday was Sunday and Kathi and I decided to drive to Joe's Crab Shack in Galveston for a late crab lunch at Joe's seawall restaurant. We ordered a Joe's Classic Steampot for two that featured queen crab, snow crab, boiled shrimp, smoked sausage, corn on the cob and red potatoes. We chose to sit on the patio and feel the cool breeze while we ate. The patio was a great choice.

We got to watch people walking along the seawall, beach patrol officers giving parking tickets, people riding peddle cars and we could watch the waves on the water from our table. We even got to see the black birds and pigeons fight over left over food at other tables on the patio. I usually muss my shirt, so I tried to wear the plastic bib that Joe provided. The wind was blowing so hard, I could not keep the bib on, so my shirt had to take its chances. Our waiter was named James and he told us he was known at the restaurant as Mr. Personality and I believe him. He was fun and efficient.

We have not driven to Galveston in several years and it has always been one of my favorite places. I remember being on Stewart Beach when I was in elementary school and staying in the water until dark. Kathi used to like to go the beach when she was younger and loved being there. She does admit to hating the drive home covered with sand and salt and I do not blame her.

One summer day soon after we got married, Kathi and I drove our convertible to Galveston, spent the day swimming and playing in the sand, then drove home with the top of our car down. We spent the next two days in bed with sever sunburns. I remember even the top of my feet hurt. We only made that error once.

After lunch we drove the seawall from Joe's and saw most of West Beach. We returned down the seawall, all the way to East Beach. It was a great afternoon with a good meal, great visuals and good conversation among best friends.

brick house next door to Joe's.

Birds looking for lunch on Joe's patio.

Beachtown Condos in front with Galvestonian hotel behind.

Cruise ship taking off.

Palisade Palms

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

North into Kansas

On Thursday, July 14, 2005 we departed from the Paradise RV Park in Winfield, TX and moved into Indian Country. We did not see any Indians, but if I remember from my western movies that is when you know they are around. We were headed about 250 miles north and to New Castle, OK, which is just south of Oklahoma City. We took US 271 north in the rain with intense lightening, driving through Paris, TX, then Hugo and Antlers in Oklahoma.

The lightening went away and the rain stopped near the state border, but it stayed overcast all day. We then went northwest on Texas 3 through Atoka, Coalgate, Stonewall and Ada. When we hit I-35 we went north toward Oklahoma City and stopped at the A AAA RV Park in New Castle.

You know with a name like A AAA, this had to be a class place and it was. The rain afforded us some cool weather and I tried not to notice that the motorhome was filthy. A little rain and the dirt and mud from passing vehicles seems to jump on the white paint of our motorhome.

On Friday, Kathi called her aunt, Alma Welch who lived in Oklahoma City. We drove over and visited with Alma, her Daughter Sally and Sally’s daughter, Erika. Alma and her family lived just behind Kathi part of the time they lived in Pasadena. While growing up Kathi babysat, with all of Alma’s children, so she was pretty close with her aunt. Aunt Alma was in a wheelchair, since she had a stroke a few months earlier and could no longer walk. Aunt Alma always had a lot of nervous energy and she still had it, because she moved her wheel chair continuously, finally running the battery down before we left. It was a nice afternoon and we all enjoyed the visit.

After leaving the Welch home, we found a small casino. I managed to turn my $20 into $150 and volunteered to buy lunch. We found an On the Border restaurant and enjoyed some great Mexican food. I have beef quesadillas and Kathi had a Grande Taco Salad with no meat.

Saturday we went to the Thunderbird Casino in Norman. They took all the winnings I had from the day before, except for the price of lunch. Kathi did not have any luck either, so we did not stay long. We had Red Lobster for a late lunch on the way home. We enjoyed lunch and both had leftovers to take home for later.

Sunday morning we got an early start to go another 250 miles north into Kansas and moved to the Lakeside RV Park in Assaria. We took I-35 north through Oklahoma City, Edmond and Perry before crossing into Kansas. We went through Wichita and changed to I-135 in Newton. Next came McPherson, Lindsborg and Assaria. The highlight of the trip was all the wheat fields and farmers cutting wheat. Agriculture in action is fun. It was warm out so we got set up in Assaria and stayed in for the rest of the day. It was nice to be in Kansas and moving again on our RV ventures.

Below are some pictures of our motorhome.

Picture of our Alfa at Charlie's Service Center in Sunset, Utah.

This picture of our couch was taken at Lake Georgetown, Texas.

Our La-Z-Boy Recliners. Very comfortable.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Past the Rainbow

Today I am returning to our 2005 Travel year. After two weeks of summer in Dickinson, TX we were ready to move along. We got up at 5 am on Friday, July 8th to make a service stop at Freightliner. They were very efficient. Their main business is trucks, but they have a technician that works on motorhomes. He was finished with his work by 10 am. Unfortunately the technician informed us our left rear inside tire was flat. On the good side, there was a truck tire shop within a few miles of the Freightliner location – how convenient for the truckers.

We dashed over to D. H. Tires on Lyons Avenue. It took me about half an hour to go the three miles, because I got lost. I do not spend much time in that part of town, but sometimes I get lost even when I know where I am going. Everything just looks different when I am driving the motorhome.  We were running Michelin XZE tires, and they did not have one, but they sold us a tire that was almost the same size. We would have to wait two days for the XZE and we were ready to move. The tread pattern was different, but I could not tell the difference driving.

Even with Freightliner and D.H. Tire delays, we checked into the Rainbow’s End RV Park in Livingston and got set up before 2 pm. We did not get far, but we were RV traveling. Rainbow’s End is an Escapees park and Escapees manage our mail, so while we were there we picked up our mail, to save the cost of shipping it to us later. There is a Walmart and a Catfish King in Livingston, where we like to have lunch There is not much else to do in Livingston, unless you like to fish and we do not, so we stayed a couple of more days and were ready to move again.

I still consider Nacogdoches my home town. I was born there and the family members we visited as I grew up lived there during my formative years. Mom and Dad lived in Pasadena and Galena Park through my junior high and high school years so we had made many trips between Houston and Nacogdoches on Highway 59. I will always have feelings for the east Texas area and that is the country we were traveling in as we left Livingston.

We took US 59 to Nacogdoches and switched to US 259 when 59 branched off to the east. We stayed on 259 through Henderson and into Kilgore. I remember all these little towns from the football games we went to when my cousin played in the Nacogdoches High School marching band. We ran our generator and basement air most of the day to supplement the truck air conditioner that is included in the Freightliner chassis. It was hot. We took Texas 135 out of Kilgore, then went through Gladewater and Gilmer, bypassing Longview, one of the larger towns in the area. We left Mt. Pleasant on I-30 east and stopped for the night in Paradise RV Park in Winfield. There was not much to see in East Texas during the summer months, but we enjoyed the small towns and country roads. We took some of the small hills fast enough to get a roller coaster effect, after which Kathi slowed me down again.

I have mentioned before when you hear words like resort, heaven and paradise in the name of RV parks, be wary. Paradise was a dump and Kathi marked it off her list for future reference. Too bad, because the area was nice, but still little to do for entertainment. We spent the next couple of days inside reading to avoid the heat, except for the laundry on Wednesday. Then we started planning out way out of town.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Current Events -- September, 4 2015

Today I am talking about current events. Kathi and I are still staying at the Green Caye RV Park in Dickinson, Texas. We spend most of our weekdays in La Porte with Kathi's brother Larry Clark who is recovering from his treatment for acute myeloid leukemia. He was diagnosed just before and went into the hospital just after Thanksgiving in 2014.

He had the transplant about three months ago. He is still in remission and new blood is building up slowly. He still has few taste buds and no appetite, but eats what he can. A lot of Boost diet supplement is helping keep his energy up. He has some light headedness and alternates between walking slowly or using a walker, depending on how he feels at the moment.

Kathi and I take him to the hospital twice per week for blood tests and infusions. The other days of the week we stay with him in his home and I administer the magnesium-saline solution that he takes daily. His wife Andrea provides all the weekend support for him, but she has to work during the week.

Larry and Andrea are leaving town for a few days to go to Georgetown to visit her sister. They will be back in time for us to take him to the clinic next Thursday. More good news – their son Matthew and his girlfriend Kristine had a new baby boy day before yesterday. His name is Cash Phillip Clark and he came to us at 9 pounds 12 ounces. Kristine has a small frame and I am sure she is glad to carry the load in her arms instead of inside her. Matthew will bring Kristine and Cash home from the hospital tomorrow. Their daughters Lindsey and Austin will have a new diversion around the house.

While Larry and Andrea are out of town, I have a few chores I need to do around the motorhome. I had to remove the vent pane for our supplemental air conditioner when we had all the heavy rain and I need to re-install it and make sure it does not leak this time.

It is time for our annual registration for our RV and we needed to get an inspection prior to registration. We have some tires with cracks in them and we did not want to put the RV on the highway until we solved that problem. It probably would not have passed inspection anyway. We have one outside tire on the back that was original equipment in 2003 – well past replacement time. The others have been changed, but at different times. We went to La Porte Tire on Fairmont last week and ordered six new Michelin 275/80R 22.5/14 tires. The sales person at the store was very helpful exploring our options and getting the best price possible. It will be a few weeks before our tires arrive from Canada for installation.

It is only a few miles to the tire store, but I have not driven the RV in over nine months, so I will be glad to be on the road, even for a few miles. I may have to take the long way back home. I really enjoy driving our Alfa RV.
Cash Phillip Clark born September 2, 2015

Larry Clark at Methodist Hospital on September 3, 2015.