Sunday, September 25, 2011

Lazy Day and FLYING HOME!

 Sunday, September 25

Today was a lazy day, we got up late and hung around the trailer. We got ready and headed to the Casino for lunch, then decided to go to the Choctaw Events Center for the Sooner Trade Days. They had many vendors selling very cute clothing, jewelery, handmade items, vintage items, etc. and even puppies! While we were there, we got a text saying Tony's folks were at the Casino, so Tony headed over to visit, while I headed to the RV park with my purchases. I also started to get the Mammoth ready to go, and of course Eileen's pic! She is stylin' next to the Mammoth, with our new vinyl personalization stickers: "the Dorsey's Mammoth".  My friend Gerry helped me create these, with her Cricut machine.

About an hour later, Tony came back, with a little more cash than he started with! YAY! We ate a snack and then got the Mammoth ready to go. We pulled out about 5:30pm, and headed home. We still have the speedometer issue, and this time, we were FLYING, topping out at over 120mph!  Not really, LOL, we were probably only going 60mph. I took a quick pic. 

We stopped in Rockwall to get a bite for dinner. While we were stopped, the speedometer read 70mph, so now I know were some of those Choctaw winnings are going. :(

We got the Mammoth tucked away at her storage facility, home and settled by 9PM. We are already looking forward to our next trip to the Texas Chapter Heartland Rally.

Mammoth visits the Choctaw Indian Nation

Friday,  September 23

Tony didn’t have a H.S. football game this Friday, so I took off work  a little early  and we headed to Durant, Oklahoma, and the Choctaw KOA Resort, across the street from the Choctaw Casino. Tony’s folks had taken him along on a trip there a month or so ago, and he had scoped out the park. They also took a route through the country, rather than over to Dallas and up I-75, so that was the same route we took… a much less stressful drive!  As always, we had a bit of adventure. Tony noticed that the speedometer on the truck was not syncing with the speed that our GPS was telling us. After a while of driving, we noticed the speedometer said we were going 10mph FASTER than we were going. Then, 20mph… then 30mph! As we came to a stoplight, the speedometer did go down, but standing still, it said we were going 30mph!!!  Tony said it was very disturbing to look down and see that we are going 90mph, when people were passing us like we are standing still.  Trust me, Mammoths don’t go THAT fast! We’ll have to look into it further, but for this trip, the GPS is what we’ll trust. We arrived about 7:30, and got finished setting up just as dark was falling. The view was striking as the sunset fell onto the multi-story metallic casino hotel, the tallest building around. This park is not far from I-75, but you really don’t hear the traffic. You do hear a train air horn every so often as we are not too far from the tracks, but we’re used to that, it’s just like home. The park has really nice amenities, with free wifi, long, level sites, a nice pool, a game room and lounge, as well as laundry and showers.  They also have a good sized meeting area, and a small selection of commonly needed RV supplies. We  relaxed and enjoyed being “away.”

Saturday,  September 24

This morning we got up and ate breakfast, and then headed over to the Casino. The Casino has regularly scheduled shuttles that take you to the Casino or the Choctaw Convention Center nearby, but you can also call them at any time for a ride. Tony gave me a walking tour of the Casino. It’s as grand as many we saw in Las Vegas.

We even toured the outdoor tropical gardens and pool areas of the hotel. They have some interesting furniture.

Then we played a little. I chose the 5 cent slots, and did pretty well right off the bat, so I stopped. Tony decided to keep playing for a while, so I went souvenir shopping and back to the Mammoth for a bit.

When Tony got back, we decided to take an excursion over to Eisenhower State Park, on the Texas side of Lake Texoma. It was about a 30 min drive over. Using our Texas State Parks Pass, we get into any State Park, free.

We drove around and realized how empty it was! The park has warning signs regarding the burn ban in effect, as well as warnings to boaters and swimmers about cyanobacteria,  also known as blue-green algae, in the water that is very toxic if ingested. There are also warnings about zebra mussels, which are very destructive because they reproduce rapidly and completely cover  the substrate, clogging pipelines, covering buoys, boats, motors, etc. Much of the vegetation in the park looked dead or dying, as well.
We saw very few folks camping. Probably less than 30 sites occupied, with close to 200 available! However, we did see some great wildlife, more than usual in a busy state park. We saw a roadrunner run across the road, and then fly up into a tree as we passed. Beep Beep! I said. Then a little later, we saw a rabbit run across the road. And finally, as we pulled into a parking lot, we saw a deer standing at the edge of the woods. We were probably about 20 feet away from her! I was really surprised she didn’t take off as soon as she heard the rumbling truck, but she stopped and stood perfectly still. Finally, she heard something that startled her and she took off. But wow, that was amazing.

After returning to Durant, we decided to eat dinner out, at Naifeh’s Steakhouse, right by the RV park. We had a really good meal. As we left the restaurant, the sunset was gorgeous!

We got back to the Mammoth and I thought I’d catch up on the blog, so Tony took the shuttle back to the Casino for a bit.
All in all, a fun day!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Heading Home and Scales

Today we packed up and headed back home. We were sad to go, we really could have stayed longer and explored more of the Longview area. We vowed we would return, sometime!!

We got the Mammoth ready fairly quickly since we had done some of the prep yesterday, not knowing if we'd have to hitch and go due to the wildfires. Thanks to the cooler temps today, we didn't melt! Tony bought a bag of ice before we left, and asked how close the fire got to the park. They told him "Two houses over!" Not sure distance-wise how close that is, but glad they got it out. Wind-downed power lines apparently sparked the blaze. It's official name was the Pleasant Green Road Fire - 150 acres. We pulled out right at 11am, which was checkout.

On our way to Longview we had discussed the possibility of stopping at a CAT scale to weigh Mammoth. Due to our earlier axle and tire issues, we needed to make certain we were not overloaded, so that could be ruled out if we have any further issues. because of timing, we didn't stop on our way out to the RV park, but we scoped out a place to stop when we headed home.

Outside of Tyler, we stopped at a nice new Shell Travel Stop which contained a Texas Best BBQ and a Sonic, as well as big rig pumps and a CAT scale. It was so new that not many big rigs were even using it yet... but the BBQ and Sonic were very busy! After we weighed we decided to eat here, too, and the BBQ was quite good!

We pulled onto the CAT scale, got weighed, then Tony dropped the trailer and we reweighed the truck. This was the recommended procedure for calculating all of the weights we needed. There is a great site called that helps you with all of the calculations. Upon returning home, I entered the numbers into the calculator, and...success! Mammoth and the truck are under in all categories, and even with all of the gear, clothes and food we'd take for a week-long ski trip, we should be safely loaded. (I was pretty sure we were, but it's nice to have the proof!)

When we walked back to the Mammoth to head out, we saw she had some company. A Dodge pulling a horse trailer, with 4 horses eagerly awaiting their owner's return. They watched us intently, as we approached. I love horses, but rarely get to see them this close! I talked to them briefly, before we headed out. Two seemed nice, one was indifferent, and the other was preoccupied with his REAL humans, that were also headed our way.

We got home, got unloaded, and took Mammoth back to storage. Our next trip may not be till October, when we go to Canton for the Heartland Chapter Rally, but maybe we can squeeze one in before then. ;)

Sunday, September 4, 2011

East Texas -- on fire!

Today was another adventure for us and the Mammoth.

We were notified by a harsh knock on the door, that there was a wildfire burning nearby. The wind was gusty up to 40mph and we were under a red flag warning. We could see the smoke, but it seemed far away. Later in the afternoon, we saw a helicopter join the firefighting efforts!

About 4pm we were warned that we needed to evacuate the park immediately, as the fire was getting nearer. Many folks were hitching up bumper-pull trailers and some motorhomes also pulled out. We were told there really was no time to hitch up, and needed to leave right away. We had already gathered the important things like the computer and other electronics, but decided everything else was just stuff and we left the Mammoth, and hit the road. Better to be safe than sorry!!

We decided to do something fun while we waited, by driving out to explore Caddo Lake State Park, about an hour away. We passed by another area of an earlier wildfire, that closed I-20 for a few hours this morning. Just off the highway, the ground was blackened and trees were still burning. Firefighters had protected a large mobile home park from the fast moving flames, and it looked fairly contained.

We got to Caddo Lake and there was very little wind there, but there was evidence of rain and wind with lots of leaves and small branches everywhere. The park is amazing, with very narrow roads. It's heavily wooded and swamp-like... Again, we felt like we were in another country! We definitely want to come back and visit for a longer stay. We discovered a section of pull- through sites that we think the Mammoth will fit in.

While exploring the camping areas, we got the message that the evacuation for the RV park was lifted, and we could return to the park. Whew, what a relief! We headed back and stopped in Marshall, TX to eat at El Chico. We got back to the park to find most folks were back, but some rigs were gone. It was dark when we returned, so we'll have to wait and see if there is any evidence of how close the fire got to the park. While watching the local news, we learned we were not alone. The first 20 minutes of the news focused on wildfires all over East Texas today!

We have to head back Monday, it's too bad but I would rather not experience any more "adventures" like today!

East Texas...Cool!

It's Labor Day weekend, and we finally got the Mammoth back from her running gear upgrade and new tires... We haven't been able to go anywhere since our trip to Colorado in June/July, so we've been going a little stir crazy!

We wanted to go somewhere not too far away, but somewhere we hadn't been before. An extensive search on the internet revealed Fernbook RV park, south of Longview, Texas.

We headed out and arrived about 11:30am. Got set up and enjoyed lunch and a nap. When we got up, the temperature was definitely cooler! Tropical Storm Lee, churning in the gulf near New Orleans, was creating a large area of rain and clouds over most of Louisiana and East Texas! We were spared the rain, but enjoyed the cloud-cover and cooler breezes!

We planned to eat dinner at a special place in Longview, Johnny Caces Seafood and Steak House. It has been here in Longview for 60 years. Tony's family loves this place, they would stop and enjoy the wonderful seafood, when they passed through coming home from a trip to Shreveport, LA. It's been a VERY long time since we've been here, but everything was as wonderful as we remember!

After dinner we drove around Longview a bit, then came back to the park. it was soooo nice outside, we went for a walk and explored the park's facilities. They have a nice pool, a great meeting space and area for weddings/events, and lots of other nice amenities. We spent a good hour outside enjoyng the great weather (81 degrees at 7PM!), watching the edge of the clouds of  Lee churn nearby.

We are really enjoying our escape for the weekend.