Thursday, January 31, 2013

This and That

What have we been doing lately – a lot of this and that.  We have been down to the clubhouse early in the mornings for the “Walk Away the Pounds” videos.  There are 25 or so people at the sessions.

We took in a potluck.  We met a lot of nice people that way.  There was a ton of great food.  There are many like us who love potlucks, but we have also learned that for a whole variety of reasons there are just about as many people who are anti-potluckers.  We think they are missing out, but it’s their call.

We had to hunker down for two days as a front blew through and blew through.  We had sustained winds of 25mph and gusts to 35mph.

Gary has been playing in the small-stakes poker tournaments and has avowed to win one before we leave.  They attract about 40 players and he has fifth and third places so far.  I have been playing some bingo but haven’t been lucky enough to win one yet.  I also took a craft class

Alley cat has been the darling of the campground.  Whenever she goes for a walk, people want to take her picture in her holster. In fact, she is now an ambassador for Crazy K Farm kitty holsters. 

We went shopping in Corpus Christi one day and will go back and explore before we leave here in another two weeks. 

There are always a list of to-dos for the motor home and we have knocked off a bunch of them.

We have been cooking.  I loaded up the freezer with spaghetti sauce and pepperoni rolls.  Gary made his 15-bean soup.

Just a lot of this and that.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

A Movember, Mecember and Manuary to Remember









Yay, all my nagging paid off – Gary finally shaved his “Movember” growth. I even gave him a haircut to go with with his clean shaven face.  Alley cat didn’t even know who he was.  So blog followers, which version do you prefer?

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Driving Into the Gulf…………Again

100_4782Nope, not back on the Ferry again, but this time we are backing our vehicle into the Gulf.  One thing we didn’t know about the beach here is that you can drive on it and then just park Gulf side.  The sand here certainly is not like in Alabama where it was white, fine, and deep.  Here it is brown, hard packed, and you can drive on it.  In fact there are driving lanes along the dunes that are considered Texas highway.  It is quite the hike from our motor home at the RV park out to the beach so rather than carry all of the stuff we like to take, we now just keep the car loaded up with the beach gear and drive right out to the Gulf.


100_4788The beach here is quite the happening.  There is fishing, kiting, flag flying, biking, etc.  Gary has gotten out the metal detector.  He read that the pirate Jean Lafitte used to have a camp at Mustang Island and there is legend that there is buried treasure on the island.  A couple of times the detector lit up like a Christmas tree, but it was not Jean Lafitte’s treasure, just a treasure of buried beer cans.


100_4791They also allow camping on the beach for three-night stints and we have seen a surprising number of RVs camped on the beach.  It is a different kind of beach experience than we are used to, but will be an interesting change of pace for the weeks we are here. 

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Pioneer Beach Resort

Pioneer Beach Resort is our campground for the month we will be on Mustang Island, Port Aransas, Texas.  We will not be really close to an ocean or gulf for a long time in our future travels so we decided this time to rent a spot near the beach.  Just over these sand dunes and up this walkway/boardwalk is the Gulf of Mexico.








Below are a couple of shots from the boardwalk out over the dunes -- complete with cactus -- and out to the Gulf.








The RV park is built around a lagoon.  There are over 350 RV spaces.







Below is one of several sections of RV pads and also the clubhouse where there are tons of daily activities.  The weather has done a complete U turn from the early parts of the month.  It has been fantastic for the week we have been here.  High temps are now in the 70s which is about as high as it ever gets here at this time of the year.


Saturday, January 19, 2013

Get Us TO The Gulf Not INTO The Gulf

100_4762OMG, this is looking out the front window of our motor home.  Gary is going to drive us right into the Gulf of Mexico (well at least the Intercostal Waterway). 

We are staying for the next month at a campground near Port Aransas, Texas on a barrier island – Mustang Island.  There are two ways to travel there coming in from the north.  One is to go out of the way to Corpus Christi, take a bridge, and drive up from the south end of the island.  The other is to take a ferry at the north end of the island from Aransas Pass to Port Aransas.  We took the ferry.

100_4751It was with a great deal of trepidation that we decided to take the ferry.  We have already taken two other ferries on our travels – in Nova Scotia and across the mouth of Mobile Bay, but those times were only in the car.  This time it would be the motor home pulling the car.  We researched the ferry and everything seemed ok, but we also called them just to be sure of everything, to verify that we would not have to unhook the car, and what to do when we got to the loading zone. They said there would be people there to direct us.

Sure enough, there were attendants there to guide us into a staging lane – a lane all of our own in our case.  When the time came, they loaded up cars first on one side of the ferry we guess so we wouldn’t tip over the boat when we drove on.  Then it was our turn.  Gary was bound and determined to maximize our use of space on the boat so that we wouldn’t scrape anywhere going on or off the boat.  We pulled forward and were waved to stop a good six feet back from the front gate of the boat.  After we turned off the motor, they decided they could get one more car on the boat behind us, so they had us start up again and pull forward to the front edge of the boat  It was a good thing that it is a free ferry as our rig took up nearly half the capacity of the boat.



Then came our really scary part.  The ferry took off very slowly and quietly from the dock, so slowly and quietly that it was one of those instances where it seems your vehicle is rolling and in this case that means our motor home rolling into the Gulf of Mexico.  It was an illusion, but it was very frightening just the same.  Now it is not like we were the first big rig every to take this ferry.  Motor home and commercial vehicles do it all the time.  We snapped a picture of a ferry we met in the channel headed for the dock we left complete with its truck as cargo.  But it was a first for us and one of those experiences we always will remember.



Wednesday, January 16, 2013

A Few Cold Days At The Mailbox

In our last post, we noted that we moved from the paint shop in Nacogdoches, back down to Livingston and the Escapees Park.  We wanted to stop and pick up our mail.  We also needed to make some campground reservations down on the Gulf Coast.  We couldn’t really reserve until we knew were truly out of the shop and ready to travel again.  Campgrounds are notorious for refusing to give refunds so we try not to reserve until we know that we will be there as scheduled.

It has been darn cold down here.  This is the South.  It is not supposed to go down to freezing at night.  And it has been gray and unusually rainy for the season too.

For two people who have no fixed home, we have found that Livingston has grown on us somewhat and it does feel a bit like “home” in addition to being our legal domicile.  We attended the daily 4:00 social hour and the ice cream social Sunday night.  Most all the people at the park share the background of either being or having been full time RVers

2013-01-14_10-11-22_530Gary decided that because of the fuel problem we developed back in December that we should not only change the engine fuel filters again, but that we should also replace the fuel filters on the generator and diesel burner (the heart of our “furnace” system) as they both draw their fuel off the same infected but now treated fuel tank.  We arranged an appointment at a truck repair facility in Houston and had all of our preventative maintenance items done.

Get us to the Gulf!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Repairs Finally Done

We dropped off our motor home at the paint shop in Nacogdoches on December 13th.  We fully expected we would pick it back up on January 2 and be on our way.  But Gary had called in late December to check on the progress, so we already knew we would be delayed a few days.  We wanted to have a couple nagging water leaks repaired and we tied in this repair work with a mobile RV tech with the paint work extension.  We have learned over our years of practicing for full timing and now actually doing it that for RV repair jobs one simply must “go with the flow” or you will tear your hair out with all the frustrations and inevitable delays.

But it was with great disappointment that when the paint shop turned the coach back over to us on January 4 we found that two of the six cargo doors that were supposed to have been repainted weren’t.  Meanwhile the water leaks were a massive project.  One of two hoses that was leaking was one that carries water up through the ceiling of the basement, through the floor of the coach, and underneath the cabinets of our main slideout and up to the kitchen faucet.  The connection where it was leaking was very accessible and at one point Gary was just planning to put in a patched-in connection, but it was clear that the hose had bigger problems than just a corroded connection.  It had discoloration and was swollen in various places.  It was the hose for hot water and apparently had not held up will to those temperatures.  We found a Tech quite by accident in Texas who had worked in field service for the maker of our coach and decided that we should bite the bullet and have him replace the whole water line.

100_4730As I said, this hose runs in part under the kitchen cabinets.  We quickly found out that the flooring of the cabinets could not be pulled out – it was a one-piece floor running fully underneath four cabinets.  After some brief conversation that included the dreaded, “we may have have to pull out the whole bank of cabinets and their Corian countertop”, our Tech came up with a very creative solution.  He used a large hole cutter and cut a series of holes in the cabinet floor that allowed access to the water line.  Whew.

2013-01-10_18-14-17_36Oh January 10, eight days after the original promise date for the paint work it was finally ready to roll again, including the water line repairs.  The other water leak issue was just a small drip in the supply lines up to the faucet in the kitchen.  But no place in Nacogdoches had the same length lines with the same connectors.  A trip 20 miles down the road to Lufkin didn’t produce them either.  The Tech had to build them up with connectors and PEX tubing.  After we rolled from Nacogdoches to Livingston and got all hooked up in the campground, it was a huge “OH NO” when I looked under the kitchen cabinet and one of the connections on the supply line was leaking.  No amount of tightening would get it to stop.

This morning, Gary was going to see if he had an O-ring to try in the leaking fitting.  Failing that, he was headed to stores to try to find new hoses, or to find a plumber to redo the ones the RV Tech made up.  But as he opened the fitting he commented that it seemed to have been cross threaded.  He carefully threaded it back on, tightened it back up, and lo and behold it is holding without any leaks.  We are keeping our fingers crossed.

After eight days of “going with the flow”, our nerves were frayed.both in the final days before leaving Nacogdoches and especially when we got to Livingston and found water still leaking in the kitchen.  Apparently “going with the flow” does reach its limits.  Ah, but after a very few days in Livingston we will be off to the Gulf Coast for peaceful month, we hope.  Another time we will have to relate the tale of how we have been in pursuit for four months now of a gas strut for a cargo bay door.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

My First College Basketball Game

I had never been to a college basketball game.  Gary has been to many of them over the years and I have watched some on TV, but it was time for my first one.  There is a a university here in Nacogdoches where the paint work on our motor home still is being performed.  It is Stephen F. Austin University.  They play in the Southland Conference, one of those conferences that is entitled to a berth in the NCAA Tournament, but typically as 15th or 16th seed.  We actually wound up going to two of the Lumberjacks’ games versus Lamar and McNeese State.  The University was on break so there weren’t many screaming fans in the stands.  There weren’t many fans of any variety in the stands.  Texas is a football state and even with a 12-1 start to the season including a win at the University of Oklahoma, the “Jacks” are not a big draw here in Nacogdoches even when the student body is around.  It is a shame as they have to be a favorite now to win their conference and possibly go to the “Big Dance”.  They are are very quick and good shooting team, but are limited in size on their front line which would make it tough playing many major teams.  But, GO JACKS!



Wednesday, January 9, 2013

You Know You Are In Texas, When………



The waffle at the continental breakfast at the motel is Texas sized, or at least Texas shaped. 

Monday, January 7, 2013

Back In The Motor Home

On Friday they progressed our motor home at the paint shop to the point where we could move back into it.  We spent 22 days outside of it principally on our Christmas trip to the Midwest.  Our total car mileage during that time was a bit over 3,000.  We stayed in 8 different motels.  As we move farther west in our travels we are going to start considering flying back instead of driving, but then we have to consider Alley cat in our planning.

2012-12-11_20-10-31_874Alley is happy to be back in the motor home, if she ever forgave us for moving her into the motor home in the first place.  She travels well, but she is stressed by all the driving and strange places.  She doesn’t get in her normal 18 hours a day of sleep.  Who is warming up whom in the picture?

We accomplished the exchange of stuff between the car and the motor home mostly on Saturday.  It is good to be back home again!

Friday, January 4, 2013

Final Christmas and the Trip Back South

100_4725We had our final Christmas dinner in Indianapolis on the 29th with Gary’s family at his Sister’s house.  It was the first Christmas without Gary’s Mom.  She was missed.  But it was nice to see everyone and we were fortunate that it worked out with everyone’s schedule that we were able to find a time that we could get together.  In the right of the picture is our nice Karen who we visited and blogged about last Spring at Stamford University in Birmingham, Alabama.  She recently graduated with her BS in Nursing and will soon be taking her test for her Indiana Nursing License.

2012-12-29_15-43-35_364While we were in Indianapolis, we had a quick visit with Gary’s nephew in a hospital.  He developed a bronchial infection back in mid December and it only got worse to the point where he had to enter the hospital and he still was there when we passed through.  He was in an ICU wing.  Think there were enough monitors, machines and IV’s?

2012-12-31_18-02-57_603On our way back to Texas, we celebrated New Year’s Eve in Little Rock, Arkansas.  This was our third stop in Little Rock since we started full timing.  We like the city and it is easy and cheap to navigate with their tourist trolley system that runs on both sides of the Arkansas River in both Little Rock and North Little Rock.  We ate in an Irish pub and Gary had corned beef and cabbage, the Irish meal for good luck and prosperity in the new year.  Hope the Irish don’t mind that it was the evening before.

We arrived back in Texas on January 1, knowing that the paint work on the motor home wasn’t finished as scheduled.  We are having to stay on in a motel in Nacogdoches while they finish, but we are going to have some other work done here next Tuesday anyway so it is not a major inconvenience.  Once all of this is done, we will see what we can schedule campground wise for our stays in Port Aransas and the Rio Grande Valley.