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.