Sunday, April 6, 2014

Over Too Fast!

Sunday, April 6th, 2014

About 3am this morning, thunder and lightning woke me up, so I put the TV antenna down (the tallest point and potential lightning rod on the rig), and watched the radar for a while on my phone. The storms were not bad and did not last long, but it sure messed up my sleep pattern.

We finally got moving about 8:30. Tony went to the Rally Hall, visited for a bit, picked up some donuts, and brought them back. It was raining off and on and it was cold this morning -- in the 40s! A far cry from the 90s when we arrived on Thursday. After we ate we began prepping for departure.

After we were almost ready to start outside projects, Jay came by to say goodbye. We talked about some future work I might do for him, and about their travel plans coming up the next year. I wish we had more time to spend visiting with him and Stella! Looks like we won't see them again until October. Luckily, Jay writes a travel blog, so we keep up with them as they go.

After we got the outside stuff accomplished, hitched, and cats loaded in the truck, I made a quick stop by Valerie and Malcolm's to pick up a check for some T-shirts I designed for them and say goodbye -- then we pulled out about 11:45am. It was raining off and on, so not many folks were outside. Too bad, we really didn't get to say enough goodbyes!

Eileen enjoys the NTX Heartland Owners Rally

Eileen at Coffee Creek RV Park, Santo, TX

Eileen enjoys the bluebonnets around the office at Coffee Creek

As we approached the western side of the metroplex, we stopped at a McDonald's that said it had RV parking. Well, the entrance to the parking lot off the service road looked too steep, so we entered from a side street and parked in the RV parking. Getting out was a little more challenging, as we had to go around the building to go out where we had come in. As we followed the edge of the parking area, we realized a turn was much sharper than we thought. We had to stop and back up to try the turn again, or otherwise we would have rolled over a curb with the trailer tires -- a big no-no that can damage them. We made it out, and got back on the road. The rain was steady but not too bad, the whole way home.

We got home about 2pm, and unloaded nearly everything before it began to rain harder. We realized our wind-breakers were NOT raincoats! We vegged a little while, then Tony took Mammoth back to storage.

We enjoyed the Rally, but as always, it was too short.

Our summer plans are in place, but hopefully we can go again before then.

Tour of Heartland "Homes"

Saturday, April 5th, 2014

Today, we got up fairly early because Jim Beletti was cooking breakfast for all in the Rally Hall. We headed over, and enjoyed pancakes, eggs, biscuits, fruit and bacon. It was great! We decided to sit with a new couple, Josh and Farrah. They have a new Road Warrior, and turns out, they were having their share of issues with their dealer -- the same dealer Diane and Jerry were frustrated with. Ultimately, we all visited and had a good time swapping stories about the dealer (which was ours as well!)

Pancakes cookin'
Breakfast is served!

After breakfast, we headed back to the trailer and I worked some more. We had a quick bite to eat, because we were so full from breakfast, we didn't need much. At 12:30, the Rally held "Trailer Tours", and we walked around looking at folks' coaches. Many told of the upgrades they've done, or features they liked.  Many had fairly new coaches, and enjoyed showing them off. We enjoyed getting to see other's units, especially since most were "higher-class" than ours. I had to fuss at Corbin & Flora, regular attendees of the NTX Chapter Rallies. They had a 2009 ElkRidge... until NOW! They upgraded this winter to a Big Country. Another couple from our group that had a North Trail, also upgraded to a small BigHorn. We seem to be one of the last that hasn't upgraded. LOL!

Cookies made by Peg and served at Peg & Mike's Bighorn

We showed off our latest mods, as the tour came to our rig. Everyone on the tour ended up getting kind-of strung out around the park, but the intentions were good, we had a good time seeing other's coaches. We enjoyed seeing the Josh and Farrah's Road Warrior, as well. It was NICE! And a unique floorplan with the kitchen on the upper level with the bedroom.

Josh & Farrah's Road Warrior

Rows of Heartlands

More Heartlands

After the trailer tours, we went back to our rig for a bit. Tony decided to walk around and take pics around the park, and get the propane bottles filled. I made my mother-in-law's marshmallow fruit salad, and worked until 5:45, when it was time for the Group Picture and Potluck. We had our group photo made, then TXBobcat took "couple photos" of everyone.

Group photo of the NTX Chapter Rally attendees

We had a great meal with BBQ supplied by Explore USA, and of course a huge amount of food supplied by all the attendees. After dinner, we had door prize drawings. The offerings were great, but many folks had what was offered, and they started substituting prizes. Some of the prizes turned out to be bottles of wine, so it became really funny when folks started saying, "I'll take the wine!" When they didn't need the original prize. We won a bottle of wine, but ended up trading with Dan & Ann, who won a travel game. After door prizes were handed out to every couple, the "grand" prizes were awarded. Dan & Ann won a wine chilling fridge, and someone else won a gift certificate for Camping World.

Gathering before the meal

Potluck Dinner

After the festivities were done, folks began playing dominoes and visiting. We decided to head back to our rig and chill for a little while. It had been a busy day. In the morning, there will be a continental breakfast, and we'll say goodbye to folks then.

Cat Food and Catfish

Friday, April 4th, 2014

We had a rough night, as the winds kicked up to 15mph and 35mph gusts, and it was just the right angle to shake the trailer all night. I never sleep well the first night, anyway. We got up and had sweet rolls for breakfast, and got dressed. About the time we were dressed, another ElkRidge pulled in the next row over! It was Diane & Jerry, from Sunset, TX. We had been talking via the forum, and so we were looking forward to comparing "elk-notes".

Our site

As soon as they arrived, there were folks coming to greet them, before they could even get started setting up. We joined the welcome party had a great initial visit, getting to know them. After we left to let them get set up, we ran into Val and Malcolm again, and the four of us decided to head into Mineral Wells. They needed DEF for their truck, and we needed cat food, so we agreed a trip to Tractor Supply would fill both our needs and we could find lunch, too.

The former Baker Hotel, downtown Mineral Wells

We each found our purchases at Tractor Supply, then we headed to find a place to eat. There was a buffet pizza place nearby, so we decided to try it. It was OK, not the best, but not the worst. After we returned to the park, we vegged for a bit, and I worked for a while.

At 4:45, it was time for the Rally attendees to gather and caravan to Brazos River Catfish Cafe. We seemed to overwhelm the restaurant, but they did pretty well serving about 45 of us! I had popcorn shrimp, while Tony had chicken fried steak. Both were OK, but we really enjoyed visiting with Malcolm and Valerie and Diane and Jerry some more.

Brazos River Catfish Cafe

Brazos River Catfish Cafe

After we got back to the park, at 7:30 it was time for the Meet and Greet at the Rally Hall. We did introductions -- we went around the room and told our names and where we were from. We had quite a few couples from out of state: Oregon, Iowa, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Michigan and Alabama. After some announcements, we were free to hang out and visit. We had a good visit with a variety of folks, and three tables were full of folks playing dominoes.

The Rally Hall

We left about 10pm, but heard they played till around midnight!

Rally Time = Reunion Time in Santo, TX

Thursday, April 3rd, 2014

First, a little back-story. Since our last trip, Mammoth has been home, and getting a variety of little upgrades and maintenance done. We were able to install a UCamp Products LED light strip just under the awning (I won this at the Dallas RV show!). We added Hatchlift piston arms to the front compartment, so that we no longer have to clip the door open... thus, we no longer worry about it crashing on our heads. We finally installed the propane changeover detector, (we bought in December,) so we'll know when our tank needs refilling. We added slideout flippers from Heartland, so that our slide seals would "flip" to their correct locations... we've had issues with them not doing so near the top of the slides. I mounted some of our souvenir bumper stickers and postcards to balsa wood, to put up as decor inside. We switched out our showerhead and faucet to a new single lever handle model by Dura faucet, and the Oxygenics RV BodySpa with SmartPause Button. I also washed the Mammoth, and added Eternabond tape to the slideout roof's front edge of the living slide, which was needing it -- I had done this to 2 other slides a while back. The other project was to install a new keyless RVLock, their newest version 4.0. I was able to get a new one, with two remotes -- a good deal -- via the Heartland Owners Club. Our original one has always been slow and unpredictable, and the company was interested in making sure owners are happy with their products.

Oxygenics Shower Head

LED Awning lights cable install down the awning arm

Back to the trip! We loaded up and had the Mammoth ready to go on Thursday, when Tony got out of school. There were severe storms predicted for the NTX area, so we were careful to keep an eye on the radar on my phone and listen to KRLD, the news station that is very good at keeping folks informed with traffic and weather "on the 8's".

On the road again!

We headed down I-20, and it was windy. We could see the storms building in the distance as we traveled, and managed to just miss a severely-warned storm as it crossed south of Ft. Worth. We just got enough sprinkles to mess up the truck. Meanwhile, larger storms were forming north of DFW, and causing baseball and softball-sized hail, damaging winds, and later, a possible tornado in Hunt County.

We arrived at Coffee Creek RV park near Santo, TX about 5:30. While I was registering, a couple asked if I had ever been to Williams Arizona. I said "Why yes!"  Turns out, they were a couple we met there, at the RV Park, 4 years ago. They had a fairly new Heartland Greystone back then, and still have it. We sat and visited quite a while back then, that was our second trip ever with our ElkRidge. WOW! Turns out, this RV Park is their "home".  It was great to visit with them again.

We got set up, and continued to watch menacing clouds -- luckily they were miles away and moving away from us. After we were nearly set up, friends Malcolm and Valerie stopped by, and so did our friend Jay. We visited a while, then went in to eat dinner. After dinner, we walked around the park to see who all was there, and visit some more. We're excited to see many of our old friends! It's like a family reunion, seeing ones you haven't seen in 6 months, a year, some longer than that, from all over the country, and around TX.

Storms for someone else!


Rows of Heartlands  -- looking towards the storms at sunset

One thing I discovered as soon as I let the cats out of their carrier -- I forgot their food! So, luckily, Valerie and Malcolm have a cat, so they graciously gave us some cat food to make sure the boys didn't stave until we could get some, tomorrow.