Thursday, December 14, 2017

Holidays and Jeep Repair

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

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

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

Thanksgiving day in Andrea's back yard.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Our October at Green Caye

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

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

Halloween decorations at Dr. Pattanaik's office

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

Well manicured shrubs at Jimmy Changa's

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Green Caye -- Dickinson

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

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

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

Boats pulling kids on paddle boards.

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

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

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

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

Flowers at Cracker Barrel

Sled on the Cracker Barrel wall.

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

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

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

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Jim Hogg Arrival

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wall art at Catfish Parlour

I love the old Burma Shave signs.

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

Thursday, September 21, 2017

To the Lake

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A sailboat on Lake Georgetown earlier this year.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Texas, My Texas

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

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

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

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

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

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

Next post: To the Lake

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Back to Casa Blanca

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Sunset to Moab

We arrived at Charlie’s Service in Sunset, UT on August 1, 2017 with several maintenance items that needed attention. Our large slideout awning needed to be repaired or replaced, we needed our oil changed and we wanted Justin Dubose to check our towing equipment. Parts for the old awning were unavailable, so we ordered a new awning. After a couple of weeks, we found out it was damaged in transit and returned to the vendor. They placed a new order and that awning arrived on Thursday, August 31st and was installed on Friday, September 1st.

We were ready to move, but did not want to travel on the holiday weekend, so they allowed us to stay until Tuesday, September 5th. We got up Tuesday and got things ready to move along. We talked about stopping in Springville or Price, UT, but Kathi and I never agreed on a place to stay, so we just started driving toward Moab and thought we could find a place to stay along the road, if I got tired. I was still feeling good by the time we got to Price, so we continued to Green River, UT where we stopped by a Subway sandwich shop for lunch. I had a meatball sandwich and Kathi had a veggie sandwich with toasted cheese. We walked around a little to get our blood circulating, ate lunch and hit the road again. We arrived at the OK RV Park in Moab about 2:00 pm and got set up for the night.

Mountains east of us in Moab
A nice home in the neighborhood

When we awoke in Sunset, it was very smoky. We knew there were raging fires in California, Oregon and Montana, so we added Utah to the list. Bad news. We hoped to get out of the smoke soon and we did. We were moving south on I-15 and the smoke was gone by the time we got to Salt Lake City. It still seemed hazy in the distance, but driving was clear. We continued south through American Fork, Orem and Provo. We looked for a truck stop along I-15 all the way from Sunset, but there were none. We knew there was a Flying J in Springville, so we left I-15 and took US 75 to the Flying J. We got our fill of diesel and continued on US 75 east, then took US 89 south. Then southwest on OR 6 through Helper and Price. OR 6 merged with US 191 and we continued to I-70. We took up I-70 east until we stopped at Green River for lunch. After lunch, a few miles further east on I-70, then south on US 191 to Moab.

Fire in the Columbia River Gorge

View of the fire across the Columbia River
During the drive we had mountains, drove through mountain passes, curvy roads and switchbacks. I was lulled and relaxed and allowed my engine to overheat going up a mountain, but downshifted and slowed down to keep engine speed higher and it was cool again in a few seconds. Engine speed is essential on 95-degree days in the desert. We crossed Price River twice and Green River once along the way. One of them tracked along the highway for a while, but I am not sure which one. We crossed the Colorado River and I thought about how long that river must be, since it passes by AJ’s apartment in Austin.

It was another fun drive, although it got a little warm in the afternoon. Temperature was in the mid 90’s in Sunset and the same in Moab and the RV engine air conditioner is not enough to keep the cab cool in direct sunshine, but we did okay. I started our generator and main air conditioner while we were stopped for lunch in Green River. 

Mountains and home west of our motorhome in Moab.

After arrival in Moab we got electricity hooked up and our main a/c running, then hooked up our portable air conditioner. It was cool and plenty good for sleeping. Another great day. 

Friday, September 1, 2017

News from Charlie's

Kathi and I are still at Charlie’s Service in Sunset, UT. One of the items on our list for repair is the awning over our big slideout. They no longer make the Carefree of Colorado awning like we currently have, so we ordered a newer model. The first awning they ordered was damaged in shipment, so they reordered another one and it arrived yesterday. It will be installed in the next few days. They have about 25 RVs on the lot awaiting repair and they work us in where they can. Some people are in a hurry and have deadlines, so they get priority. Our deadline is November, so we do not mind waiting.

Yesterday, they welded a crack on the towing equipment on our Jeep and put some freon in our Jeep air conditioner. Did you know Freon is a brand name owned by The Chemours Company in France? The name covers many refrigerants they make. The generic freon without the capital letter signifies other refrigerants not made by that company.

We will leave here in a few days and make our slow return to Texas and plan to be there for end of the year holidays. Our target date to arrive in Dickinson is November 1st.

It has been hot and dry here, unlike the high humidity in Texas, but we are glad to have the air conditioner working again. We spend most of our time inside our motorhome, but must get out occasionally for meals or groceries. A/C is a real blessing.

We eat at home most days, but we did eat lunch at Cracker Barrel last Friday. I normally eat cereal for breakfast, but bacon, sausage and eggs sounded good on Friday, so Kathi took me to breakfast. It was fun and exactly what I wanted to eat. I think Kathi enjoyed her breakfast also. We do not do that very often.

School desks on the wall art at Cracker Barrel
Tuesday, we had lunch at Longhorn Steakhouse. Kathi had a salad and I had a small sirloin with baked potato and salad. I was surprised to find they do not have a chicken fried steak on their menu. I like to eat the Nolan Ryan chicken fried steak, which is on the Longhorn menu in Texas. 

Today we drove through Taco Bell for beef burritos and crunchy tacos. In between lunch outings, I have eaten Kathi’s world famous hamburgers, bad TV dinners and sometimes just a ham sandwich. Any or all is good for me, I suppose, since I do not seem to be losing any weight.

Longhorn at Longhorn
We watched the Texas Louisiana weather the last week and are glad we are not in that area. We do feel empathy for the people there that are struggling with the remnants from hurricane and tropical storm Harvey. We are so sorry so many of our family, friends and neighbors are struggling with recovery from wind and high water. We also watch with pride as people pitch in to help one another. It is the American way. We are glad to be American and really glad to be Texan. 

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Awning and Eclipse

Kathi and I are at Charlie’s Service in Sunset, UT. We left the Oregon coast the end of July, because there was going to be huge crowds to view the eclipse on the coast. Chinook Winds Casino security made everyone leave their RV parking area so they could re-stripe the parking lot. Once we had to move we started back east, heading back to Texas.

We liked these mountains a lot better when they were covered with snow.
We stopped at Charlie’s to get our awning repaired or replaced. After our arrival, we discovered our hot water heater was not working. Justin Dubose determined the problem was the water heater circuit board and Gilberto made the exchange and we now have hot water. After evaluation of our awning, Justin determined a new awning was the only answer and we are waiting for it to arrive. As soon as it is installed, we will be on the road again. 

Justin, his wife Mandy and their son, Austin took their dragster to the races over the weekend and we hope they have a good time. Winning would also be nice.

Monday is the big day, astronomically speaking. It has been 99 years since the last total eclipse was visible all across the country. I do remember seeing one when I was twelve years old. I was in Nacogdoches, TX at the time and it got completely dark in the middle of the afternoon.

The eclipse will occur between 10 am and 11 am in mountain time. We looked at a few stores for eclipse glasses. I did not have any last time and I can still see, but viewing without UV glasses is not a good idea. We will probably use the pinhole trick. Put a pinhole in a piece of cardboard and watch the sun through the pinhole. I may even try a two-holer.

Some interesting things about eclipses. The last eclipse in the US was in 1979 and was only visible in the northwestern portion of the country. There is an average of two eclipses every three years somewhere on the planet. Somehow, they never get reported, because no one sees them. As strange as it sounds, there was a total eclipse only visible in the United States in 1776. I would have loved to see that one.

It is 95 degrees here today and it feels hot. I understand it gets cooler during the eclipse. That would be welcome all over the country.

We have mostly stayed inside our motorhome this trip through Sunset. We have eaten at Longhorn Steakhouse a couple of times and ate at Red Lobster today. Kathi had fresh grilled salmon and I had a combination of fried shrimp and stuffed flounder. The shrimp were great, but the stuffing for the flounder was a joke. The flounder tasted okay, but the stuffing tasted like biscuit dough.

We are going to take our time getting back to Texas. We will probably take short trips and enjoy our time together, as usual. Traveling with your best friend is highly recommended.

I am not sure what a lime rickey is, but 99 cents makes it sound cool.

Friday, August 4, 2017

East to Charlie's

My last post described our drive from the Oregon Coast, along the Columbia River and moving toward the Pioneer RV Park in Hermiston, OR. We stayed at Pioneer three days and never unhooked our Jeep. Pioneer RV is a Passport America park so we got to stay two days at half price, $15. The third day we paid full price. The trip was 275 miles and I was tired when we arrived on July 26th and still tired the next morning. I intended to get my ladder out to sew the awning for travel, but I could not muster the energy to get the work done.

On Saturday, July 29th, we continued east on I-84 for a 290-mile trip through Pendleton, Meacham, Hilgard and La Grande. I-84 veered south near there and we continued through Baker City, Weatherby and Ontario before moving into Idaho. We stayed on the same highway through Caldwell, Nampa, Meridian and Boise before stopping at the Mountain Home RV Resort in Mountain Home, ID.

Most RV resorts are not resorts, but Mountain Home is truly a resort. All the sites are concrete and the landscaping is beautiful. They also sell propane from an easy to access spot next to the park office. The park is usually full before dark each afternoon. The price was too high for us at $35 per night, but I was tired again after the long drive. We decided to stay three nights so I could rest and we would arrive at Charlie’s Service Center in Sunset, UT on Tuesday, to avoid the Monday check-in of weekend drop off RV’s. They are very busy this time of year.

Charlie's Shop office.with reflection of photographer.
We were both hungry, so we unhooked our Jeep and ate a late lunch at A.J.’s Restaurant and Lounge. Our oldest son is called A.J. so I would not consider any other restaurant in town. I had chicken fried steak and Kathi had a BLT with avocado. We brought desert home for later.

We were running low on some staples, like cookies, so we had to make a Walmart run on Sunday and spent the next two days at home relaxing. I am still amazed that we can drive thousands of miles and when we park, we are home, with our own bed and bathroom. What a life.

Alfas are normally white, but this one has been repainted and looks great.
Mountain Home, ID to Sunset, UT was another long drive for me. It was 267 miles and I knew I would be tired on arrival. Kathi and I decided on shorter mileage on future excursions.

We left Mountain Home around 10:00 a.m. and drove east past Hagerman, Wendall, Jerome, Twin Falls, Hazelton and Rupert before crossing into Utah. We stayed on I-84 through Snowville, Tremonton, Brigham City and Ogden before arrival at Charlie’s. As expected, their lot was full. They probably have 25 RV’s on the lot needing service or repairs of one kind or another. They have four bays where they work on automobiles and park RV’s near their shop when they work on them.

RV's that need repairs

RV's in my neighborhood
We enjoyed being in the cool weather on the coast, but we are ready to continue east back to the Deer Park area. We have a few maintenance items to complete at Charlie’s, then we will continue our journey, taking shorter treks each day, while we enjoy the good life.

Auto repair bays

Sunday, July 30, 2017


The drive on I-84 is one of our favorites. Moving east the Columbia River was on the left side of the road and we could see Washington on the other side of the river. There are many dams and locks along the river that provide a lot of hydro-electric power for nearby communities and the state of Oregon. This is an interesting area. There are divided highways on both sides of the river and train tracks on each side of the river. Throw in the boats on the river and that adds up to a lot of vehicular traffic.

Between Portland and Hood River (the town) there were evergreen trees on both sides of the highway. Occasionally, we could see the Columbia River through the trees on the left. Straight ahead we could see Mount Hood. It is a pointy mountain and is the highest peak visible in that area. Much snow still covered the mountain and it was like a beacon drawing us in that direction.

Through the windshield picture of Mount Hood, moving east on I0-84
 The town of Hood River is named after the Hood River that flows into the Columbia at that location. They have a port on the Columbia River and a small marina with berths for about twenty boats. The Columbia is about ¼ mile wide at this point and near that width for about 50 miles.

We drove through Hood River and were both getting hungry, so I planned to stop in Rufus and park near the John Day Dam, where we have boondocked many nights at the Corps of Engineers Park. Just east of The Dalles, I saw a sign that said, “REST AREA 2 MILES.” That sounded like a better deal. We could stop along the highway and not get off asphalt paved areas. We both preferred that option over Rufus where we would be parked off the highway and in rocky terrain.

View of the Columbia River from a rest stop east of The Dalles
Kathi made us sandwiches for lunch and I took a few pictures, until a big truck pulled in next to us blocking our view of the river. There were forty of fifty people in the rest area and about fifteen cars and vans, ten big rigs, a few motorhomes and a few trailers. We had a fun peaceful lunch, watched other rest area guests and walked around the motorhome to keep our blood flowing after sitting for several hours and knowing we still had several hours to drive.

Another Columbia River View
 The huge evergreen trees we had alongside the road earlier were replaced with mountains and cliffs that were solid rock in some areas and straw colored dead grasses in other areas. There were some smaller trees, but not many tall spruce or pine trees.

Truck on the right is next to us at the rest stop. Divided highway traffic closer to the river.
We drove through The Dalles, then through Rufus with one spectacular view after another. Somewhere around Boardman the river turned to the north and the highway drifted to the south, making the river further north of the highway and ahead we saw mountains with a spray of windmills.

We began seeing irrigated fields with grass and some crops alongside the highway. We saw orchards of walnuts and hazel nuts and vineyards that started on level ground and continued up the hillsides. There were a lot of corn fields and the density of the stalks indicated the corn was for cattle feed and not human consumption. The greenery was great and always a sight we appreciate. 

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Leaving Lincoln City

Kathi and I arrived at Lincoln City, OR July 6, 2017 and departed on July 26th. We spent our entire stay at the Chinook Winds Casino parking lot, rent free. We were boondocking and using our bank of six batteries for electricity. We had to run our generator a few hours in the morning and evening to recharge the batteries. When boondocking we used our water and electricity sparingly. After the first 12 days there, we had to go to a local RV park and empty our tanks and re-fill our fresh water tank for a $10 fee.

Right side of the Chinook Winds Casino taken from the employee parking area.
 After we were there in Lincoln City for a few days, my sister Carol and her husband Lloyd Jackson arrived and parked near us. We had a great time visiting with them and eating a few meals together at local restaurants or the casino buffet. Carol and Kathi also enjoyed a few casino hours together playing video poker machines. Kathi and I spent some time in the casino, but I limited my playing time, because I tend to be too free with her gambling allowance.

One of the places I like to eat fried codfish and curly fries.
 Our friends, Debbie and Butch Schultz live in Oregon and have a view of the Columbia River from their front door. They drove their car to Lincoln City for a few vacation days and last Saturday night they dropped by to visit. They also have an Alfa, so we have a place to start a conversation as we share stories about our lives and travel adventures. It was great seeing them again and we had a lively, enjoyable conversation. We hope to visit them at their home on our next trip through.

An expanse of trees in a forest are north of Lincoln City
 The last few days we were there, I was having to run our generator more often than usual and I think we have at least one bad battery in our battery bank. Our plan was to leave Lincoln City the end of this week anyway, but the battery problem made leaving a few days earlier seemed like a good idea.

We said goodbye to Carol and Lloyd as they were leaving for a drive to Tillamook, OR. Then, we drove to the Neotsu Post Office and got our mail from general delivery. We hooked our Jeep to Alfa and hit the road toward the Pioneer RV Park in Hermiston, OR.

We drove north on US 101, the Pacific Coast Highway, then turned east on OR 18, the Salmon River Highway. Going was slow on OR 18 because of the curves and switchbacks through the mountains. We left OR 18 as it entered McMinnville and continued east on OR 99W, the SW Pacific Highway. Travel was slow as we drove through the communities of McMinnville, Dayton, Dundee, Newberg and Tigard. Many red lights and stop and go traffic. We finally got to I-5 in Portland and drove north until we got to I-84.

Next Post: Hoods describes our trip along the Columbia River.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Lincoln City Experiences

One of the reasons we bought our motorhome was to avoid summer in Texas. We loved the weather in spring, winter and fall, but July and August were not that much fun. The first few years we traveled our oldest son lived in San Francisco and our youngest son was in the Marine Corp stationed at Twentynine Palms, CA. We made a lot of trips up and down the California coast visiting our sons.

Twentynine Palms is about 150 miles east of Los Angeles and over 500 miles SSE of San Francisco. We made the trip from the Houston area to California at least once per year for several years and up and down the state of California a couple of times each year. When our youngest got out of the Marines he moved back to Texas and around that time our oldest also returned to Texas. Kathi and I had enough of California with the high prices and we agreed we had no reason to return there.

A view along US101 --The Pacific Coast Highway.
My sister and brother-in-law had been RVing longer than we had and they spent a lot of summertime boondocking in Oregon. In August of 2007, Kathi and I decided to join them on the Oregon Coast. They were boondocking in the Chinook Winds Casino parking lot in Lincoln city. We had never boondocked and were a little leery of trying that, so we moved into the Chinook Bend RV Park in the southern part of Lincoln City. We drove our Jeep to visit my sister at the casino.

A deer eating leaves off a tree at Chinook Bend RV Park
We returned to Lincoln city in 2008 and took the plunge boondocking at the Chinook Winds Casino parking lot. It was 60-65 degrees most of July and August and the wind blew off the ocean constantly. We had fun. The parking lot was not level and our front wheels were about a foot off the ground, but the windows were open and we had a blast.

In summer 2009, we returned to the Oregon Coast, but started our visit further south in the Coos Bay/North Bend Area. We boondocked at the Mill Casino in North Bend. North Bend is just to the north of Coos Bay and the bay itself borders three sides of North Bend. We usually refer to Coos Bay when we stayed at the Mill Casino. That summer we drifted along the coast north to the Three Rivers Casino in Florence and further north to the Chinook Winds Casino in Lincoln City. After a little time there, we ventured north to Tillamook, then into Washington. We visited Raymond, Rochester, Marysville and Chehalis in Washington. It was cooler in Oregon.

Picture through our windshield of RV's boondocking in the casino parking lot. The Mill Casino is in the background to the right.

One of our neighbors at Coos Bay.
In Summer of 2010 and 2011, we returned to the Oregon Coast and visited Coos Bay, Florence and Lincoln City. In the summertime from 2012 to 2014, we decided to go straight to Lincoln city, since we did not enjoy the casinos further south.

We spent most of 2015 and 2016 in Texas and Finally got back to Lincoln City July 6, 2017. We plan to stay until July 27th, then they will begin moving people out of the Chinook Winds Casino parking lot for re-striping. They are expecting a huge crowd to arrive in August to view the solar eclipse. We will definitely not be here. It has been fun boondocking here, but I think we will begin a slow drift back to Texas next week. It does not matter where we are, Kathi and I have fun together and enjoy each other. 

2017 picture of my view out the windshield at the Pacific Ocean behind the Chinook Winds Casino.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Deschutes National Forest

A few years ago, Kathi and I left Lincoln city on the Oregon coast with plans to spend the night at Walmart in Bend, OR. We had been boondocking for a while and I neglected to get diesel when we crossed I-5 moving east. We got into the Deschutes National Forest and the evergreen trees were fantastic. The winding roads through the mountains were a hoot and I was doing fine until I looked at the fuel gauge and it was on empty. Kathi never likes the winding roads, so she was already apprehensive and then I mentioned our fuel issue. We both realized no one in their right mind would put a truck stop in the middle of this national forest. The rest of the way up the mountain, around the bends and through the forest the air was filled with tension inside our motorhome.

Beautiful, snowy mountain views in the distance

We finally arrived at Bend, got some diesel, then found the Walmart store. We got parked and set up and opened our shades. Right outside our window was a sign that said, “NO RV Parking.” I showed the sign to Kathi and we both shook our heads. The tension still had not abated. Now it was worse. Before bringing our slide back in, Kathi found us a home further east and we left Bend, OR thinking we did not want to go that way again.

Great scenery

People forget.

July 5, 2017, we were leaving Burns, OR for our return to Lincoln City on the Oregon coast, again. I told Kathi we would be okay going through Bend, OR this time, because we filled up with diesel when we left Winnemucca, NV and had plenty of fuel to get us through the forest.

We left Burns early moving west on US 20 and got through Bend and Sisters in the middle of the day. Sisters, OR is a nice old tourist town on the eastern edge of the Deschutes National forest. Just west of Sisters traffic was blocked and not moving either direction. We pulled off on the side of the road and Kathi made us sandwiches for lunch. While we were eating the traffic cleared and we realized that the traffic delay was due to only one lane being open somewhere ahead. The lanes of traffic were alternating going past a construction area. We were fine, in no hurry and it was a beautiful day to be in the forest.

More forest views

We finally got past the construction area and entered the Deschutes National Forest. The forest was beautiful. We spent some time climbing, mountains, so going was slow, but that gave us more time to admire the trees. We past a sign that said, “6% DOWNGRADE NEXT 11 MILES.” No problem, I have gone downhill successfully many times before, so I was confident. We started down with my engine brake on and me keeping a manageable downhill speed. Then, we started getting curves around the mountains and bumps in the road. Obviously, the repair crews did not understand level, because each bump was at a patch in the road. Somewhere along that downhill run and a big bump in the road, one of the arms on my tow bar lost a connector. I spent a few downhill miles moving slower and assuring our Jeep did not pass us, especially into oncoming traffic. When I finally found a turnout, we discovered that keeping the Jeep behind us caused some bumper damage to the Jeep. Fortunately, I had a spare for the missing part and we were soon back on the road. I had to promise Kathi that was our last trip through Bend, OR and the Deschutes National Forest. I promise.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Continuing Northwest

We left the New Frontier RV Park in Winnemucca, NV early Friday morning, June 30, 2017. We had to drive to the pilot truck stop on the other end of town for diesel, then took US 95 north heading toward Burns, OR. The greenery on the side of the road was mostly shrubs and small grass and the terrain was rolling hills. US 95 is a two-lane road in excellent condition. There was minimal traffic and it made for pleasant driving. The land in this area is part of the Paiute-Shoshone Reservation of Ft. McDermitt, NV. Although the fort is in Nevada the reservation continues into Oregon.

Through the windshield picture on US 95

As we crossed into Oregon, the shrubbery went away and all the green we saw was just wild grasses, with no trees anywhere. After about 30 miles some scrub brush was added to the wild grass along the roadside. We saw several small herds of horses and a few cattle in the open range area. When we got to the intersection of US 95 and US 78, we took 78 northwest toward Burns, OR still moving toward the coast. Alongside US 78 we started adding trees to the mix of green growth. About 50 miles southeast of Burns, we started seeing irrigation and plush green grass, mostly for hay. I only remember one farm with crops, other than grass, but I could not identify the crop. We saw more and more farms that the hay was cut and ready for baling as we moved northeast.

Mountains get higher as we move north in Oregon
We got to the Burns RV Park in late afternoon and got a space under a tree that blocked our satellite reception for our TV. We also had a problem with our awning over our larger slideout. A gust of wind caught it when we were driving and did some damage to it, causing it not to extend or rewind properly when we moved the slideout out or in. I spent some time on a ladder and eventually resorted to a small hacksaw to cut away a rod attached to a gear on the roller that was causing us much trouble. The fabric is still torn, but I have it in workable condition, although it needs to be sewn before returning inland.

Am igloo like structure in Burns, OR

We did not want to travel on the Fourth of July weekend, so we ended up spending five nights in Burns. We ate one meal at the Apple Peddler restaurant and the rest of the time we ate at home. Burns is a tired old town and not much to see or do there. The biggest stores in town are farm and feed supply stores.

Thursday, July 5th, we moved further west on US 20. We got lost for a little while in Bend, OR, as there is no US 20 bypass. You have to wander through town and I got lost. Making a U-turn is most difficult driving an RV and pulling a Jeep, so when we found US 97 we got on it and found where it crossed US 20 to put us back on track.

We moved into the Life Northwest RV and Lodging in Harrisburg, OR. This is a nice RV park with paved spaces on the banks of the Willamette River. The property was purchased by the Life Bible Church a few years ago. We spent one night in Harrisburg and were ready to make it to the coast the next morning.

Next post: The Deschutes National Forest and arrival at Lincoln City.