Sunday, February 28, 2010

Home again....

25 Feb 2010
Up shortly before 07:00. Took Sammie for a long walk. We consider it her birthday as well so bought her a toy last night. We'll give it to her when we stop tonight.

Had a breakfast buritto with some of the last new tortillas - 09:00 - gotta dump the gray water & get on the road.
Had a long day to Fort Stockton, TX. The excitement was just before we got out of town. We were going along in the slow lane and came up an overpass to find a really mangled extension ladder in our lane! Happily there was no one directly next to us in the fast lane so I zipped over there; some guy had to wait a moment or two to pass us but I'm sure he understood. He certainly didn't try to pass us in our previous lane and drive over that ladder.

Stopped at the same PA park in Fort Stockton that we used on the way east. They still haven't fixed their internet; glad I don't have to hold my breath. To celebrate our 'special day' we had cheese and pate with some nice bread that we did in the convection oven; it worked pretty well but timing it was as much luck as planning. My wife fell asleep almost as soon as we stopped eating; went to bed about 19:30! I stayed up a bit more watching the Olympics but was in bed by 21:30.

3:31 PM 2/26/2010
Landed in Deming, NM about 20 minutes ago; we are in the Mountain Time Zone now. Fairly long day; some of the roads were pretty rough; especially the bridges. El Paso was as crapy as ever; too many people, cars & trucks on the one road through town. There was an accident that closed down part of the freeway but they had a radio announcement so we got in the far left lane and was just stop-and-go for 20 minutes or so.

We stayed in this park as well on the way east. That time they parked us in the middle of a big puddle; it's all dry this time but it isn't a lot better. The problem is that there isn't any real difference between the space and the roadway. It's a disappointment since this is an Escapees park and they are normally fantastic.

We are talking about making it a three day trip to get home. Stop in Casa Grande; then Congress, AZ; then Kingman, AZ, The first two are Escapees parks; the Kingman one is a PA park and is actually out in Green Valley (half way to Bullhead).

Decided that making it a two day trip was what we wanted. It means we'll hit both Phoenix and Las Vegas on a weekend day; and it gets us home a day earlier important since we are getting a little travel-weary.

We wanted to get fuel before leaving Deming; across from the park was a gas station - diesel was $3.29 a gallon! We didn't think that was very good so spent a few minutes driving through Deming. Finally found a place with diesel for $2.79 a gallon - a $.50 difference! We wanted about 30 gallons so were pretty happy with finding the cheaper fuel.

Drove from Deming, NM to Congress, AZ - quite a long day but it's mostly freeway and we know the road so it wasn't too bad. Got into Congress just before the rain; got set up in record time. While I walked the dog it started raining. Had a quiet night watching the Olympics.

Got up knowing we would be home tonight. Looking forward to that.

Had a rainy night but by 07:30 the next morning it was wet but at least not raining. Whew! Drained the blackwater (toilet stuff) then the graywater (showers & dishwashing stuff). All went smoothly; sometimes it's not that cool. Got hooked up and headed out. The trip from Congress north was very pretty. LOTS of great views; unfortunately lots of hills too. Glad we have that big diesel truck.

It was a nice trip though. Stopped at Kingman, AZ for fuel and lunch. Fuel is at least 10 cents a gallon more than on our trip east only a month ago. Lunch was Popeye's chicken: worked really well for me; not sure my wife was as happy. (She tries to stay away from fried foods.)

Had another almost-accident while driving through Las Vegas. We were going along in the slow lane where there was an exit lane next to us. Suddenly a little red car came around passing us on the right (the exit lane)! I had to slow but they made it. If they had mis-calculated just a bit, we'd have been driving home in a rental car.

Got home to find that the rain we'd had in AZ was here too. We have water sitting in the ditch in front of the house. I backed the trailer into the yard only to find that the rain made the ground really soft. It is the first time I've had to use the 4-wheel drive on the truck! It worked though; the trailer is installed next to the house where we can unload it over the next couple of days.

Unfortunately, that's not the end of the story! Yesterday, when we opened the slide there was kind of a 'sproing' that my wife says happened when the slide caught the carpeting inside the rig. I was outside and heard it but didn't see it. So when we got home I tried opening the slide with her watching inside. In a moment, she yelled 'stop!' - the slide was gouging a tear in the flooring! SOOO, I'm going to be calling the dealer tomorrow. Glad this didn't happen 2,000 miles away from a dealer.

The trip was great. We got to see even more of the family than we expected; we got to see our ex-neighbors; and we got to visit a few new places like the Space Center. Very successful. The truck performed perfectly; I'll be scheduling a service now that we are home. The trailer was also great. No problems until we made it home so who can complain about that?

Have a good day.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Traveling across Texas

22 Feb 2010
Headed to Houston. It was a pretty short day but full of drama. Well, at least for a minute. We were in Houston headed for the park. We were going along behind a woman in a mini-van; she was going a bit slow so I pulled out to pass her; there were four lanes and I moved into the third lane to pass. There was someone in the fourth and the mini-van was in the second. Suddenly we the guy in the first lane pulled in front of the mini-van; she thought about coming over into my lane but saw us at the last moment and jammed on her brakes. I was already on mine so we both slowed and let the idiot go ahead. We haven't been in such a tight spot in a long while.

Stayed in the Safari Mobile Home and RV Park; it's a PA park we we paid half price. It's a nice little place; back behind some kind of baseball practice place but close to the Johnson Space Center which we wanted to visit. The lady at the park told us we could get a coupon for half off admission to the Space Center at McDonalds so that kind of planned our next day.

23 Feb 2010
Went to McDonald's for breakfast and found our coupon. Entry into JSC is $20 so the coupon was saving us $10 each; not a bad deal! The breakfast was pretty good too. We also did a little checking around for our way out of Houston tomorrow.

The Space Center was pretty good. It was colder than hell riding around on the little tram but we really wanted to visit so managed it. Got to see Mission Control; the building where they house all the training modules and one of the original Saturn rockets. We'd seen the rocket before at Cape Canaveral but it was nice to have it explained by one of the guys who originally worked on them. Mission Control was great; just like it was way back when! The training modules were interesting but there wasn't anyone doing anything there so it was kind of boring.

We had lunch there; it was downright awful. They have a food court kind of thing that had 2 of 5 places open. We opted for a $8 chicken finger thing and a couple of $2 Cokes. Crap food at it's best. There were quite a number of foreign visitors; it's got to make an awful impression on people.

24 Feb 2010
Drove to San Antonio today. Short day but it's a good place to stop and sets up for easy days heading west. We are back in Stone Creek RV Park; it's PA so it's cheap and has free wifi included. What's not to like? We stopped in Schulenburg, Texas for lunch. There is a bbq place there that we really like. We've stopped there for years going back and forth on I-10. Express BBQ is our favorite but there are several and I imagine others would prefer them.

Landed here about 14:30; I did laundry while my wife cleaned the trailer. We both felt better when we got that done. Went to H.E.B. for some food - they have fresh tortilla's in their stores. Great! That's dinner. Got a some nice cheese and stuff as well. We don't celebrate Valentine's Day but we do celebrate our relationship on February 25th.

Now we have the goodies to enjoy tomorrow; whereever that is. Right now we are thinking it will be either Fort Stockton, TX or Pecos, TX. That's for tomorrow. Have a good one.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Back home-through the South

20 Feb 2010
Had a good day yesterday. Hit the road by 07:45 which is almost a new record for us. Drove up Highway 19 to I-10 then headed West. Got in to the Escapees park in Sumerdale, Alabama about 14:30 Central time (got an extra hour there). That's almost exactly what the GPS was estimating so we are liking the time estimate feature. Saw a few cops on the Interstate (5 or 6); most of them writing tickets for people. There were a couple Sheriff's deputies on 19 but they were just watching for people.

We talk big about slowing down and smelling the roses but don't usually manage it. We are staying here another day (tonight that is) but that's just to do some shopping and a little deep breathing after too many days with other people. I've always thought about visiting the aircraft museum at Pensacola but we've never done it. Maybe next trip! (Isn't that what I'm supposed to say?)

It's still chilly around here but sunny today and the weatherman seems to think the weekend will be good. Makes me happy anyway, I don't really like setting up and tearing down in the rain. I haven't figured out a rain outfit that I can do what I need to do and not get wet somewhere.

We dumped our tanks when we got here; they don't have a dump station but all the sites are full hookups. Anyway our hose-to-sewer connector leaked; lost maybe a pint or so of effulent - not a lot but kind of distressing. There is a Camping World just down the road so we'll get a new one.

21 Feb 2010
Went to a wonderful lunch at Le Roux in Foley, AL. It was kind of expensive but great! We'll be back again for dinner on our next trip. ALMOST made up for the shit we got at Lambert's! Went on to Walmart - got a new sewer connector so we'll see if that fixes our problem.

Landed at Duston, LA today. Had a good day in spite of the lousy roads in Louisana. Had do drive under 55 for part of the time; if we went faster it just rocked our guts out. Got on the road about 09:30 so it was a six hour day. Drove through a lot of clouds and some light rain but nothing serious.

Bad news is that I lost my cell phone. We think it got lost at a rest area just over the state line in Mississippi but who knows. Called AT&T to shut it off. Guess I'll be geting something new. Oh well, not a big deal I guess but what a pain in the ass.

Raining here now; hail in the area so we hope we don't get any of that. Haven't had to hook up in the rain yet on this trip and I hope the luck holds. It's no one's favorite thing. We chose this park for it's wifi; it's ok but nothing to write home about. Watching the Olympics on tv; tonight is ice dancing. Not my favorite but they are pretty great athletes!

"The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well." - Pierre de Coubertin, The Olympic Creed Inspired by Bishop Ethelbert Talbot, speech, Olympic Games 1908

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Trip report continued...

08 Feb 2010

Had a fairly nasty day yesterday but managed it.  The Louisanna roads had some awful stretches; they have blocks of concrete that aren't leveled up to the next block so you hit these joints for miles at a time - bang bang bang.  Then we were out in the middle of nowhere and they closed 2 of the three lanes of I-10 - wasted at least half an hour getting through that; there were people who must have lost over 2 hours but we were lucky.  The bridges were bad too; one was so rough that I slowed to 50 mph and it was still rough.  It was a long day; didn't arrive until almost 17:00.  THEN, we found that the park we hoped to stay at was full.  Boo, hiss!  Started looking at the books and found another park about 15 miles away.  Called them & said we'd be right over.  Found this nice little place; it's on a major road but nothing compared to an Interstate!  LOL  Spent a quiet night watching the Superbowl (American football championship).

I don't think we saw a cop crossing all 900 miles of Texas, saw a bunch in Louisanna.

This a.m. we need to hit the road; it's likely to rain later. 

09 Feb 2010

Drove across Mississippi and into Alabama.  Saw 13 cops in the first 13 miles of Alabama; then another five before we stopped for the night at the Escapees park.  Glad we were just poking along with the trailer.

10 Feb 2010
Spent a quiet day at the Rainbow Plantation (another Escapees park) - I did laundry for the high point.  Rained like the devil last night but there are low drains to carry off the water.  Went into town and had dinner at Lambert's Cafe - the ThrowedRolls place - had chicken & dumplings - little chicken and a kind of home made noodle - no dumpling at all - no vegie in the dish either.  My wife had ham and beans - ok but for $27 plus tip it was crap.  Oh and $2.19 cokes for drinks!

Off tomorrow for Florida.  Plan on staying somewhere up near I-10 so it will be a short day.  I'll dump the tanks and we'll be good to stay with our relatives for a few days.  We will also have a short day to get to their house on Thursday; don't want to arrive and have to back into their space in the dark!

11 Feb 2010
Drove down to the relatives house near Crystal River.  Got in quite early, maybe 14:00, so we could enjoy some time with the family after getting set up.  They had lots of stone crab for everyone else & a very nice t-bone for me(shellfish allergy).  Came back to the rig fairly early and let the wife have some family time.

12 Feb 2010
Spent the day with the family; a couple of friends showed up before noon then a couple more (from South Carolina) just before dinner.  Had KFC and some pulled pork from SC for dinner.  That pulled pork was a nice surprise.  We both came to the rig & let the relatives have the evening with their friends.

13 Feb 2010
This is the day of the party; actual birthday is tomorrow but this is better for people to attend the party.  My wife's uncle must be the most popular guy in town; there were are least twenty people at the party.  Eight had come from out of state!  Lots of food and talk.  It started at 14:00 and we came back to the rig about 18:00; read a bit then early to bed.

14 Feb 2010
Another relative day.  Started with the friends leaving then about 14:00 some more relatives showed up.  My wife hasn't seen her cousin in 30 years; her great-aunt was present when her mom died 4 years ago.  Now they are talking politics at the top of their lungs; I don't get paid enough to stick around.  Heading to Palm Harbor tomorrow to see our ex-neighbors.  Should be fun; also a good place to buy booze!

18 Feb 2010
Back with the relatives.  Had fun seeing our friends.  They seem pretty much the same.  We never spent mornings with them; turns out they are as addicted to "Imus In the Morning" and Fox news as our relatives.  Looking forward to moving on just to avoid that shit!

One of our friends has diabetes and is having trouble with it.  He's lost like 30 lb that he couldn't really afford.  Hope he manages to get it under control.

Went shopping at some of the Florida stores we knew.  Bought new tennis shoes AND crocs at our favorite shoe store.  Don't suppose we'll keep on traveling 2,500 miles to go shopping but it worked for us this trip.  Bought booze for the return trip; it's cheaper in Florida than Nevada by 12-15 percent.

Taking everyone out to dinner tonight at their favorite resturant; we think it's awful but they like it so away we go.  Can't rain on their parade ALL the time.  Tomorrow morning we'll hit the road back to Nevada.  We plan on stopping at a few places along the way.  Hopefully we'll find some wifi so I can update this thing too!

Have a good one.

"Happiness is not a state to arrive at, rather, a manner of traveling." - Samuel Johnson

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Finally - we're traveling

Traveling is something both my wife and I love but in the past year all we managed was a trip up to Washington state.  However, that is changing!  Actually, we are a thousand miles and three states away from home right now.  We are headed for a family birthday celebration back in our old home state of Florida.  We also hope to see a few of the sights on the way home.  First we are beating feet for Florida; the trip home should be more relaxing.  We are spending our days in the truck; our nights in our travel trailer.  The dog gets the back seat in the truck and the cat has his catbed in the rear footwell.  Most often I'm driving and my wife is navigating.  She has 2 atlases and two GPS units.  The first day we called ahead to say we were coming and the GPS estimated we'd arrive at 17:08 - the guy had to give me a hard time because we arrived at 17:10.  That's the kind of navigator I married! 

Here's a shot of the trailer in our yard.  Living area is in the back; the bedroom is in the front.  Bath in between.

Here's a shot of the living-dining area in the trailer.

Here's the first installment of our trip log.

03 Feb 2010

Left Pahrump at about 10:30 on Wednesday.  Took longer than anyone would expect to load our food and clothes but we finally got out.  It was a nice day but we had a long trip planned; down highway 95 to Laughlin then East towards Kingman, AZ then South again to Congress, AZ and the Escappees park there.  "The Ranch" was open until 17:30 fortunately because it was after 17:00 when we arrived; thanks partially to Arizona being in the Mountain time zone!  We both had forgotten that again!

There is a forest of Saguaro cactus on the way south.  Very interesting; at one point they were interspersed with Joshua trees.  Quite an interesting drive.

Parked in a nice level spot and hooked things up.  It wasn't fancy but wasn't bad either; there was a nice dog run anyway.  Had some dinner and to bed.  No internet because they have a contract with someone called Tengo - the cost is excessive for us. 

04 Feb 2010
Got out about 09:30; not bad for us.  Had a drive to another Escapees' park:  Dream Catcher in Deming, New Mexico. 

Before leaving Congress we checked the Phoenix traffic; there was a 3 vehicle wreck that almost closed I-10 and I-17 in both directions.   A truck hit a car which hit a Class A motorhome; the motorhome tipped on it's side and that closed 2 lanes about 06:45 - when we went through town at 10:30 it was finally clear but only just!  Fortunately the only injuries were minor; the rv'ers weren't scratched, even their dogs were fine.

Lots of traffic on I-10 especially a lot of trucks.  Amazing that this is in a tough economic time; doesn't look like it from the highway!  Dream Catcher was a disappointment.  Spaces were fairly tight; it had rained and there was standing water everywhere.  It was just off the highway and on the other side was the railway line; trains all night long!  We also had a leak in the water filter that I'd installed just before we left.  It didn't leak at home but tonight I found it by the simple expedient of stepping in water.  Bah humbug!  Worked on it and got it to a very small drip but still a pain.

05 Feb 2010
Hit the road quite early, before 09:00!  We discovered that the water pump in the rig doesn't put out as much
pressure as the park water does and the leak in the water filter is much slighter.  We decided we can just use the rig water pump until we make it to San Antonio or somewhere where we can get parts easier. 

We planned on driving to Ozona, TX today.  Nice weather so headed East on I-10.  Somewhere during the day, my wife came up with the novel thought that we really didn't need to kill ourselves getting to Florida; we have plenty of time.  So our first move was to cut the day's driving by about a hour and a half and stopped at a Passport America park in Fort Stockton, TX.  We'd stayed in the park before some years ago; it is kind of ugly but had drainage so was dry and quiet. 

We had stopped at a rest area during the day and a trucker's refer unit caught on fire!  There was lots of smoke but another trucker noticed what was happening and banged on the guy's door to wake him.  As soon as he shut if off, the smoke stopped.  He had to call for instructions though; that cold cargo couldn't just sit there getting warm.  He was lucky the other trucker noticed the problem before the fire got really out of hand!

06 Feb 2010
My wife woke at 03:30 or something like that; she was showering about 05:30!  Not like her but at least she got her shower.  I was afraid she might run out of water.  By the time she got out of the shower I was ready to go turn on the park water but she had finished.  I was back asleep before she turned on her hair dryer and didn't wake until 08:30.  So it was almost 10:00 before we got on the road.

Last night I tried tightening the clamps on the water filter again.  Must have done something right because it's
almost completely gone.  It's small enough that it doesn't reach the floor before it evaporates.  Cool!   

Rather than go all the way to Houston, which was our original target for today, we stopped outside San Antonio.  Things were quiet until we got on the road that circles around the northern part of town.  Those people were crazy!  Eight or ten cars would merge into traffic without bothering to worry about the people already on the road.  We were following a big truck; how he managed to avoid killing about a dozen people I'll never know.  They certainly made life tough for that driver.

Our park today is Stone Creek RV Park in Schertz, TX.  It's a Passport America park so was only $15.50.  This is another place we've been before; they have nice sized spaces that each has an outside table and a little shade.  Unfortunately, the spaces aren't totally level but every rv'er has to deal with that from time to time.  We carry both 2x8s and 4x4s to prop up the low side of the trailer.  This is a 2x8 place.  We especially like staying here because there is a supermarket here (HUB) that has freshly made tortillas.  Yum!  Those nice warm tortillas filled with spiced hamburger, cheese and salsa - we had a great dinner!  And we have free wifi!!!  First internet time since we left Pahrump.  Doubt if it will be a late night; this traveling is tiring!