Monday, April 15, 2013

Oh yeah, there's a Casino here!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Today we got up and had a leisurely breakfast, got dressed and walked around the park to visit. Many folks are headed home today, but we paid for an extra night so we could leave later in the day. We visited with folks until the crew thinned and then decided to head to the Casino for a little play. Jay and Stella went too, and we split up to go and find our favorite entertainment. Tony and I both did ok with the Rally-provided $10, coming out ahead.

We all met back up for lunch at the Buffet, which was still serving breakfast items, as well as lunch items, at 12:30. The food was not bad... not great, but not bad. They have now made it affordable if you show your players club card. After visiting and eating too much, we headed back into the Casino to do some more playing. Stella and I went for the penny machines, and Jay headed back to the RV Park... a nap sounded good to him. We played for a while, and I was doing pretty good, so I decided to quit while I was ahead. We tried to coordinate going back to the RV Park together, but somehow I lost Stella! Luckily, we all made it back just fine, thanks to the great shuttle service the Casino runs back and forth to the RV Park.

After we rested a while, we started getting ready to head home. I worked on packing up the inside items, and Tony went out to do the outside prep and dump tanks. It never fails, when we are trying to leave a Rally, suddenly a crowd appears, wanting to chat or say goodbye!

Eileen at Choctaw KOA, Durant, OK

We ended up finally pulling out about 6PM, after giving final hugs to our Heartland friends, one last restroom stop, and kitties loaded in their carrier into the truck. We made good time, and kitties did a little better... but we decided to stop in Rockwall for a bite to eat. We stopped at a McDonalds that is next to a large grocery store, so we could park Mammoth easily and walk over. Tony got us food, and I took the kitties into the Mammoth for a quick stretch.

We ate our dinner and got back on the road. We were home about 8:15, and unloaded the inside items. Overall a great Rally and a fun trip! We look forward to seeing many of these folks again in Goshen, Indiana, in June, for the North American Heartland Owners Club Rally.

Breakfast, Prizes, and Catfish, Oh my!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

This morning, we headed over to the Rally Hall at 9am for the provided breakfast of eggs, sausage, bacon, biscuits and gravy, all cooked by a group of OK Chapter members. It was terrific! We ended up sitting with the couple in the site next to us, the Fowlers. They are in a motorhome... (affectionately called "SOBs" -- because they own Some Other Brand)!!  They are members of the Oklahoma Good Sams Club, and were invited by the OK Chapter Leaders (Also OKC Good Sams members) to attend. Heartland Rallies are open to others, they just may have to pay a small fee to attend.

After the breakfast, we had "club business," door-prizes and raffle ticket drawings. The door-prizes were all similarly-shaped in white plastic bags, and you got to choose your own. We ended up with a Camping World t-shirt and a Drill-Driver set. After the "grab-bag" door-prizes were given away, they drew again for some bigger prizes, and we won a nice folding camp chair with attached fold-out side table. Then followed the raffle, but we did not win.

After the prizes, there was a break. We decided to head back to the coach.

Heartlands take up two whole rows

We didn't stay home long, and decided on a trip to the Peanut Shoppe, to see what kind of sugar-free choices they had. We got some milk-chocolate covered pecans, and some white-chocolate-cashew squares. After that, we did some driving around for a bit, then headed back to the park. We ate a light lunch, since we were meeting at 3:15 to head to BG's Catch for dinner. Apparently they open at 4pm and fill up fast.

Tony decided to go try out Ladder Golf in the Rally Hall, while I took a nap. He came back about 2:30PM, and then at 3PM we got ready to go with the others to BG's. We caravanned to the restaurant on the OK side of Lake Texoma, and unfortunately the caravan got a little dis-jointed, but we all made it in time. Quite a crowd was gathering!

Crossing Texoma, this on U.S. Hwy 70, the Roosevelt Memorial Bridge

Waiting outside BG's Catch. (photo courtesy of Jay Coffman)

The meal was buffet-style with salad bar, catfish, shrimp, hush puppies, etc. We had a good meal, including some of the best catfish I can recall eating... but the best part was the homemade ice cream and peach cobbler! Our diet definitely went out the window today!

After dinner we walked around the park some and visited with various folks, and toured some coaches -- including a couple from Terrell that just upgraded to a new Big Country. Wow, it was nice! We ended up back at our coach, talking with Jay again and Terry, the NTX Chapter leader, about the great things Heartland has done for members of the club.

After a while it was getting cooler, so we called it a night. Once inside, we tried to watch the end of the NRA 500 NASCAR race being run at Texas Motor Speedway, but it was putting us to sleep... or was it the cobbler??? Tony and the kitties went to bed, and I followed soon after the race was won.

Rally, "OK Style"

Friday, April 12, 2013

Today, Tony got up VERY early, about 4:30am to head back home to go to work. I got up about 6am and did some work that needed to be done early, and then went back to be for a bit. Kitties snuggled in around me, which was nice. I got up about 8am and got dressed and headed over to the Rally Hall. There was coffee and donuts available, and I got to see more of our Heartland friends.

After breakfast, I headed back to Mammoth to get our potluck dish ready...  A slow-cooker pot roast. I don't cook, but this is really easy, even I can do it, mess it up, and still have it come out right, which I did! The propane tank ran out right as I was browning the meat, but I was able to go out and turn the other tank on and switch the lever. Then I forgot to use the slow-cooker liner, so I had to transfer the contents out and clean the pot, then add the liner, and put the contents in again. Do you hear circus music??

Mammoth in her site at the Choctaw KOA

After getting the slow-cooker going, I worked most of the day. There were opportunities to play games and cards at the Rally Hall, but I decided I needed to work, not play. There would be plenty of time to do that on the weekend. The kitties spent the day window-shopping, including sharing a stool to see out the back window! We may have to shop for a cat-tree, so they can more easily lounge and watch the world go by.

Tango watches the Heartlands

Brothers sharing, what a concept!

Just before 6 I headed over to the Rally Hall with the pot roast. We had way too much food, and all of it was great!

Enjoying the potluck

Tony arrived about 6:30, so he didn't miss too much! After dinner, we had a group picture and then there was going to be games of Bunco. We opted not to play Bunco, but instead ended up visiting outside with Jay, Stella and Bob (TXBobcat). We talked about our coaches, playing games, old tv and radio shows, and funny stories about our GPS units and navigation faux pas.

The biggest laugh was about the small plane that seemed to continually circle over the park. Jay and Stella have a new variable color LED light strip on their coach, and we joked that the plane was using it to coordinate its landing!

About 9pm we called it a night as Tony was tired from his looong day and it was getting chilly. We headed off to bed pretty quickly and kitties snuggled down as well.

Ready to Rally Again!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Today, we were headed to the Oklahoma Chapter Rally at the Choctaw KOA in Durant, Oklahoma. We originally planned to head to the Rally on Friday, but Tony decided we could go Thursday instead, and he would drive back home on Friday for work. What a sweetie! That's a 2-hour drive, one way.

About 6pm, we were loaded, kitties and all, and headed out. We take a back-way to get to Durant which lets us avoid the traffic around Dallas. Unfortunately, this route was under construction in a few areas, and the road was much rougher with narrow lanes than we would have liked. The kitties had a hard time settling down, and only did about 15 minutes before we arrived. The trip was easy, and we arrived about 10 after 8pm. Here's a pic of the kitties as we waited for Tony to check in.

As usual when we attend a Rally, our friend Jay was the first to greet us. We got set up, ate a quick dinner and then walked around the park. We were greeted by other friends, and would have talked longer, but the cold front that had moved through was making for a chilly evening. Temps were probably in the 50s with a stiff wind blowing! We ended up running the heater! We hit the hay, and kitties settled right down with us for the night.

Monday, April 8, 2013

"Soft Kitty" and the forest

Sunday, April 7th

Today, we got up about 8AM and started the arduous task of stowing and getting ready to head out. Tony made us breakfast, then went outside to do some prep-work and take some pictures. Well, you can't do that at a Rally without ending up chatting with folks. And that's a good thing! These are great people.

Eileen at Conroe KOA, Montgomery, TX

After a while I had the insides ready to go, and then I started to get my shower and get ready. Tony came along finally after getting the black tank dumped and the back stabilizers up.

While Tony was in the shower, I went out and did a little visiting, too. Then we were ready to hitch and go... but it never happens like that.  LOL! It's work a little, visit a lot. Work a little, visit a lot. They say you should not get into conversations when you are hitching or unhitching, because it's distracting and you may forget important steps. Well, we did forget one thing, but it was not a big deal.

We finally pulled out after hugs and goodbyes at 11:15am! We chose to follow the GPS from Montgomery, which took us through the country, through the Sam Houston National Forest...  back to I-45. It was a very pretty drive, but we had to take it a little slower, since the road had no real shoulders and was curvy.

Through the Sam Houston National Forest

More bluebonnets

Since we did not have to stop for fuel, (which means we can stop ANYWHERE!) we stopped at Buc-ees for some more jerky and Tony got us our lunch: chicken fajita sausage! It was really good. We also gave the kitties a break and let them out in the trailer (on leashes) for just a bit.

We headed again down the road, and the boys were getting fussy. I guess they just don't like being confined. I ended up putting the carrier on my lap for a bit, and started singing "Hush little baby, don't you cry..." but I couldn't remember enough of the words. I then sang the "sickness comforting" song from the TV sitcom "Big Bang Theory",  called "Soft Kitty".

The words are, "Soft kitty, warm kitty, little ball of fur, sleepy kitty, happy kitty, purr, purr, purr." I sang it over and over, and the boys calmed down, and went to sleep! Who knew, this really works on CATS?

We got home about 4PM, and unloaded the truck and released the kitties back home again. They were happy to be home! About 5PM, we decided to go ahead and get Mammoth back into the driveway, which we did, and then got her unloaded. Some items we did not unload, since we'll be headed back out for the Oklahoma Rally soon.

At about 6PM we ate dinner and crashed in front of the TV for the evening. Kitties beat us to it, and were sacked out. Traveling takes a lot of "Kittenergy"!

Mambo and Tango, napping on their blanket at HOME AGAIN

Overall, a very fun and successful trip with our furry babies!

iHop, Sam, and Potluck

Saturday, April 6th

Today we got up early and headed to iHop for breakfast, sponsored by Ron Hoover RV and Marine. The kitties did well again at staying "in bed" all night... so good, I had a hard time turning over! The hogged my side. Here's the sleeping arrangement, in the light of the morning:

Looking down at my legs!

We had given our orders to Vickie, the Ron Hoover salesperson, the night before, so they would be ready to go much quicker when we arrived. Sure enough, the food started coming out, just as we ordered, not long after we were seated. Tony and I rode over with Tom and Marti, the South Texas Chapter Leaders. We had a nice visit with them, talking about places we've been and recommended sites to see.

Part of the group enjoying their iHop

Before we headed out for breakfast, Tony got the fixin's started for our potluck dish, a pot roast, in the slow-cooker. After breakfast, we decided to do a little exploring. Tony and I headed back down I-45 to Huntsville, and checked out Huntsville State Park, and the Sam Houston Memorial.
The State Park is on a lake, and has lots of pine and other tall trees. There is one area with pull-throughs that Mammoth could fit in, but most of the sites are small and there were tons of tent campers there. It was a great day for camping!

driving onto the Huntsville State Park property

the Huntsville State Park sign

boats available for rent, and the lake

After driving the park (with our State Park Pass, we get day use entry for free), we headed to the other side of I-45 to see the 67ft tall statue of Sam Houston.
There is no fee to see this statue, but there is a nice information center and gift shop to visit before you take the short walking path to the base of the statue.

He is tall!

Us with Sam

Perspective of the size. Tony at the base.

After photos with Sam, we decided to head back to the RV Park. We could have seen more in Huntsville, but felt we needed to prepare for the Potluck tonight and visit the Rally attendees more. Tony cooked hotdogs on the grill for lunch.

happy grill man!

Here's some pics of some of the coaches in attendance:

Mammoth didn't get the memo about wearing her awning...

more Heartlands

Later in the afternoon, we had a nice visit with our friend Ruth Ann, who came to meet the furr-babies and chat. The boys were well-behaved, yet a little skiddish. But overall they did great!
At 6:30, we packed up the slow-cooker and headed over to the clubhouse for the potluck. There were lots of great dishes, and we all had a great meal. Door-prizes were given away as well, and we received a set of connecting cushioned foam floor mats that make a large 4x4 cushioned pad. These are great, we will use them. We already have some we use in the basement of the trailer.


Terry (MTPockets) Rainwater entertains

After dinner and prizes, the HOC attendees from Florida, Terry and June, entertained us with some guitar and singing. Terry is really good, and June was as well on the one song she shared with him at the end. We hope to hear more at another Rally down the road... I doubt they will get away with NOT performing in the future! Overall we had a great time this evening. About 9pm, folks started heading back to their rigs. We had a long day, so we called it an evening. Tomorrow, we pack up and head home.
Gosh, seems like yesterday we just got here!

Kitties and Katfish

Friday, April 5th

Today, we got moving somewhat late, mainly because I needed some more sleep. About 10am we were finally up and about, and rally-goers were starting to mill around and visit. Tony went out to visit with them, while I finished getting ready. We opened some windows, too, since the temperature was nice in the 50s and 60s. Kitties loved that! They went from window to window, staring out much of the day.

All set up

Kitties hanging out in the Mammoth

Our Heartland friends were great, coming over and welcoming us, and we visited for a while until lunchtime. After lunch, I took a much-needed nap. Tony and the kitties watched TV or snoozed, in the living room. Our friend Dan came in to meet the kitties. They did great, letting him pet them.

About 3:30PM, Tony decided to see what was happening for dinner. There had been some talk of a group going out early, since our ice cream social was at 6pm. Well, at about 4:00PM, they were ready to go! We ended up riding with our friends Jay and Stella over to Vernon's Kountry Katfish, and a large group ended up having a delicious meal together!

At Vernon's Kountry Katfish

After dinner, we all went over to the clubhouse, (The Landmark room) for the ice cream social and visiting. Then, about eight of us stayed to play Mexican Train, a domino game. We played a complete game, from 12-0. We didn't keep score, but we had a great time. I won three rounds!

Ice Cream Socializing

It was midnight before I crawled into bed with the kitties and Tony. Luckily, they all didn't notice too much, and we got a pretty restful night of sleep!! I guess there wasn't a dire need to explore this night. YAY!

Mammoth and the furr-babies head South!

Thursday, April 4th

Today was the day we were headed to Montgomery, Texas, for the South Texas Chapter Rally. We had worked all weekend getting Mammoth re-loaded with all our gear that we had taken out for the trip to the factory. We also attempted another trip in the truck with the kitties. They still don't like it, but I guess they are getting better. A lot less weeping and gnashing of teeth! I also picked up a new hard-sided carrier, which has a top door, as well as the standard end door. This gives us the security they won't escape the carrier, and the room they need to be comfortable. We also filled up the BIG tank in anticipation of this trip and our next one to Durant, OK, next week.

When Tony came home for lunch, we hitched up the truck and pulled Mammoth out to the street. I loaded a few things, and got the stuff into the truck. All was ready except for loading kitties and us.

At 1pm, I watched the Memorial Service for the Kaufman County District Attorney and his wife, Mike and Cynthia McLelland. They were murdered in their home in Forney, TX. They were fellow church members at FUMC-Terrell. They were also RVers. Tony and I would have liked to have gone in person, but with our plans already in place, it just wasn't possible. Watching it live streaming online was the next best thing. The service was very fitting. Our Pastor and a former Pastor gave the opening prayer and a sermon during the service. Even Governor Rick Perry attended and spoke. He did a very good job of paying tribute and reassuring us that the criminals will be caught. We will keep the family in our prayers. BTW, if you happen to have a tip related to this crime, please contact the Kaufman County Crime Stoppers.

After the Memorial, I finished loading and got the kitties ready to go. Tony came home, and we all headed out. The drive was fairly easy, with lots of pretty bluebonnets and other wildflowers along the way. Once on I-45, we noticed more law enforcement personnel than usual. After a while, we realized why. The funeral procession would soon be headed down I-45 to Wortham, TX for the McLelland's burial. The law enforcement was staging to help control traffic as the procession passed.

wildflowers on I-45

Passing Sam Houston Memorial, outside of Huntsville

Stopped at Buc-ee's for Jerky

The kitties cried some, but after a while they settled down. We stopped about 3 times for restroom breaks and then to stop in at Buc-ee's for some Jerky!

We arrived at the KOA about 8pm, and it was very dark. They had left our map on the office door, and with a little work, we found our site in the dark and got set up. We immediately chowed down on leftover steak we had brought, then released the kitties into the coach. They did a lot of exploring, but seemed to be happy to be there (and no longer moving!).

Kittes settling into the Mammoth

Once it was bedtime, they joined us in bed, curling up between or beside our legs. Suddenly, the queen bed seemed too small for the four of us. All was good for about an hour, and the kitties were up and roaming around. Having a hard time ignoring their jingling tags as they jump and explore, I got up and watched them for a while... and scolded them when they tried exploring counters and other "off limits" areas. Luckily Tony had his ear-plugs in, and slept through it.

I was trying to drift off on the loveseat, but it's not long enough for comfortable sleeping. Especially when "Hefty" decides to sleep on top of my chest. We did this -- sleep for a bit, explore for a bit -- routine for a majority of the night. about 5am, I went back to the bedroom and we all finally crashed for a while. Whee, aren't traveling kitties FUN!