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 recreation.gov 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 recreation.gov 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