Friday, June 27, 2014

New Position and New Role for Mammoth

Tuesday, June 10th

Today, Tony awoke early and got the Mammoth ready to roll, all by himself. we had not had time to get too sprawled out, so he was rolling by 9am. He stopped at the Blue Beacon, to get Mammoth a bath. She really needed it!! The trip was uneventful, and he got home right about 12:45. We were able to back the coach into the driveway in 3 minutes! A record!

After some more discussion, Tony called to accept the position as Assistant Band Director in Cisco ISD. Our plan is to temporarily "move in" to the Mammoth and stay at Solid Rock RV Park as Tony works in Cisco this year, knowing that I might be traveling back and forth to Terrell to work at various jobs. We know this will be a challenge, but one we feel we're prepared to accept. After we are confident the new position is a good fit, we'll explore other more permanent residence options.

We look forward to the adventure before us.

But first, we have a summer trip planned to Colorado! We can hardly wait!

All Day Affair

Monday, June 9th

Today, Tony got up and headed to Cisco for his interview at 8am. It was raining again, so he left a little sooner to make sure there were no issues. He arrived a little early, so he sat and waited a bit in his truck. 

The head director arrived, and they had a good visit, catching up. Mac and Tony have known each other a long time, and so it was just like old friends talking. Mac could not say enough good things about the administration and district, and about the opportunities here in Cisco. They are an TEA Exemplary school district.

The interview with the Cisco administration went very well, and Mac took Tony to a very good Mexican place in Cisco... Perfect! Finding a good Mexican food place was one of the job qualifications, in our book.

After lunch, Tony said they met with the Cisco College director, and discussed those options, as well. 

I was getting worried since I had not heard from him, but about 5:30, Tony called to say he was done with the interview and discussions -- and had a job offer! We discussed at great length, but opted to wait till he returned home Tuesday to make a decision. Lots of things to consider, but in many ways, the decision seemed easy.

Tony took some more great pics of the sunset at Solid Rock. He'll pack up and head home tomorrow.

Exploring the Area

Sunday, June 8th

Today, we awoke to some heavy rain, but soon we got up and got going to drive around the area of Eastland and Cisco a little more. The rain tapered off and we headed to Eastland, and drove all around. We ended up stopping in Eastland for lunch at a Pizza Place, called Pizza Heaven. They had a lunch buffet on Sunday, and we could tell it was very popular with the after-church crowd. The price was reasonable, and the food was very good. They kept the bar full of a variety of pizzas. We will definitely come back to this place!

We also walked around the Eastland WalMart. Although it is smaller than our local WM, they had a similar selection and we would not want for anything.

We also saw they had an Alphagraphics, which will be helpful in my line of work.

We took some backroads to get to Cisco, about 15 miles down the road. The countryside here is populated with large ranches, many were probably enhanced with oil money. We saw quite a few pump jacks here and there, but not many actually pumping. We drove around Cisco College, which may also provide some opportunity for Tony as well. Cisco College is a 2-year institution, and the buildings were somewhat dated... But you could tell it was thriving.

We drove out to look at the stadium. Cisco was the 2-A State Football Champions last year. They share a stadium with Cisco College, so it is larger and nicer than many 2-A schools, with artificial turf and a large concrete home grandstand.

We also scoped out the school some more, and also tried to find another couple of rv parks. Again, nothing to write about compared to Solid Rock.

We ended up returning home about 3pm, and talked about our discoveries. Both of us were expecting less than what we found, which was very promising.

 I headed home about 4PM, since I had some other work to complete and be ready for work the next morning. My drive home was uneventful. I spoke to Tony some more once I got home, surrounded by fussy kitties. They were telling me how much they missed us! He also sent me some good pics of the sunset, and Eileen.

View from the opposite side of the park, as I was leaving. See the Mammoth?

Tony took this walking down by the lakeshore

Sunset, with Eileen on the ladder.

Tony's interview is tomorrow at 8am. We have high hopes.

Escape with a Purpose

Saturday, June 7th

We couldn't post about this trip when it happened, because the trip was to see about a potential job for Tony at Cisco ISD in Cisco, TX. We headed out on Saturday with the Mammoth to Solid Rock RV Park, located 4 miles south of Eastland, TX. The drive was essentially due west on I-20, about 3 hours away.

We opted not to take the kitties, and took my vehicle as well, since I would be returning back home the next day so I could work for a customer on-site starting Monday.

We encountered some bad traffic through Arlington, but otherwise had no issues. We arrived at Solid Rock about 3pm. We had to call the park manager so that he could meet us at the office and get checked in. We had a nice visit and talked about the park amenities: laundry, bath house, long pull through sites, low fixed monthly rate, free wifi, free cable, full hook-ups, discount green fees on the golf course located beside the park, and kayak rental on Lake Leon, launched from their beach.

We pulled into site 18, and started setting up. When we were nearly done, the park manager dropped by to make sure everything was going OK. (Very nice!) Though the gravel site needs a little leveling, overall it was very good location. Out the back window was the golf course, and out our dining room was a view of the lake!

View out the dining room windows.

We had dinner about 5pm, then we drove the car around a bit to explore some of the area and other rv parks nearby. We drove through a couple others that were in worse shape, and some even cost more than Solid Rock. None could really compare.

We also drove over to Cisco and scoped out where the school was located.

Cisco water tower

While we explored the area, we saw a road runner and later, a deer. We are definitely not the city! We were quite impressed that the area seemed to be thriving and was beautiful, lush and green, rolling hills with lots of trees -- reminiscent of the "hill country" area of Texas.

Roadrunner, just to the right of the red rock.

Deer crossed in front of us.

After we returned from exploring, the sun was setting. We got some good pics. It reminded me of when we lived in the Shores of Rockwall, in a golf-course community on Lake Ray Hubbard.

Tony with the Mammoth

View of many of the park's residents, and the lake

Mammoth and the view

We settled in for the night, excited about doing some more exploring tomorrow.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Over too quick

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Today, we got up a little later, as we'd had the long day yesterday. We all got dressed and had breakfast, Tony made breakfast burritos with hatch green chiles and hot sausage. Mom and Dad got more attention from the kitties overnight, but mostly they just slept with them (read HOGGED the bed)!

After breakfast, Mom and Dad loaded up and headed home. After they left, we decided since it was a little overcast, to walk around the RV park a little. The railroad tracks criss-cross in a Wye through the park, so we decided we would try to catch the steam engine switching around, when the train from Palestine came through around lunch.

We noticed that much of this park needs some TLC. The sites need some grading and new asphalt, the common areas are overgrown, and the buildings need some repairs and maintenance. I did see where they are looking for a park host, but gosh, there is too much work needed here! I read on the internet that the holding company that purchased the railroad/park in 2012 was having financial difficulties in 2013, so maybe that is the reason.

Our site from across the park

Our site, looking through the pines. There are two pull-through curved sites between the camera and the Mammoth.

Tony checking the roof.

A Calendar shot.

Eileen at Texas State Railroad Campground, Rusk, TX

We went back to the Mammoth and began working on packing it all up to head home. We stopped for lunch and ate leftover hamburgers, and then Tony heard the train. We ran out to watch and take some more pics, but the engine didn't go as far down the tracks as we had hoped, so the pics were not as good.

After the train watching, we headed back and finished packing up. We pulled out about 2:45, and got home around 5ish. We are getting good at the backing, Tony got the rig into the driveway with only one correction! We unloaded and collapsed for the evening. Man, it went from Spring to Summer while we were gone! I guess there is a lot of humidity in the air.

Well, in just a few long weeks, we'll be headed out again for our summer trip. We have some washing and general maintenance to do to the Mammoth between now and then!

We will cherish this trip and time spent with my folks. We thoroughly enjoyed it.

Time Travel Soothes the Soul

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Today we all seemed to get up and going much faster than I was anticipating. It was a little odd, as this was the first time we had overnight guests in the Mammoth, so I guess we all didn't sleep as well as we would have at home. The kitties decided that mom and dad needed their love and attention overnight, but that was OK. They now have some stories to tell. We ate breakfast and had to head to Palestine to board the train, even though we are staying at the Rusk Depot. Why, you ask? Well, when I originally booked the train tickets, I picked the Rusk Depot because we wanted to ride the steam engine train, rather than the diesel engine train. I got a call a week before our arrival, telling us the engines had been swapped for the locations, so we could change our reservations and ride from Palestine, or keep the reservations at Rusk, and ride the diesel train instead. We opted to go to Palestine! Luckily, it's only about 30 minutes drive time.

We arrived 1 hour before departure, as they recommended, so we had time to mill around and take pictures and such. Just before we were to board, they announced that anyone could come and walk through the engine cab, take pictures and talk to the engineer. WOW! That was neat.

This side is the fireman's controls.

The cab -- looks complicated! Very intense heat emanates.

The boiler, when running can get white hot!

Us with the #7

Engine No. 7, a Baldwin 2-8-2, was built in 1917 for the Tremont and Gulf Railroad, who sold it to Magma in 1954. It was featured in the popular epic film How the West Was Won. The engine was purchased by the Texas State Railroad in 1974 and rehabbed in 1978. It is an oil-burning engine.

Mom and Dad, ready for their train excursion.

All 4 of us, on the 41 car

We boarded and headed towards Rusk at 11am.

For those interested in the typical scenery along the way, here's a video link, from earlier this year.

We got to Rusk about 12:30, and had about a 1:30 layover. We had brought our lunch with us and ate it on the train, so we just did some shopping and more picture-taking. We could have walked back to the Mammoth, but the excursion is a round trip!

Me and Dad

At the Rusk Depot

Dad and Tony

The engine backing into the opposite end of the train to pull us back to Palestine.

Riding the rails

We all agreed, the train trip was a step back in time, and its motion tended to lull you to sleep. I think we all dozed off a little on the way back to Palestine, but we all enjoyed every minute of it. You really appreciate the craftsmanship and history of this type of travel.

After we returned to the Palestine Depot, we loaded up and drove back to Rusk to the Mammoth. We ended up taking a short nap, then waking up to thunder, as a brief shower moved through. After it slowed to a sprinkle, Tony put out the awning and fired up the grill for some hotdogs and hamburgers. We had a great meal, relaxed and took it easy. It was a long day, but a good one!

Belated Anniversary Gift

Friday, May 29, 2014

Today, we headed to Rusk, Texas and the Texas State Railroad Depot and Campground. Previously, this had been a Texas State Park, but now it is run by a private entity.

We are finally giving my folks their 50th wedding anniversary gift, which was to come and stay at an RV park with us in the Mammoth, and ride a Texas Train.

We left home with Mammoth and the kitties about 3:45pm and headed towards Tyler, then took the toll-loop around to 69, to Rusk. We drove into a heavy rain shower, but it only lasted about 5 minutes. We arrived the the Texas State Railroad Campground about 6pm, and got checked in. The rv loop contained 32 sites that are full hookup, and much like the way a state park is run, the sites are first come, first served. We were told to "pick any open site". The park has seen better days, and could use some TLC. But the setting was gorgeous! Lots of very tall pines.

Luckily, they were not very full -- only about 8 sites were occupied. We drove around the park which contains mainly arched pull-throughs, and found a few we liked. Ultimately, we picked a site that was somewhat on a hill and had a good straight shot at backing in. -- and had room for my folks' vehicle, too.

The park had a recent shower, so it was overcast wet and humid as we set up. We immediately realized, we had NO cell service! I hope my folks can find us!

After about 45 minutes of set up, they arrived. We were working on "inside stuff" at that point, so it was the perfect time to arrive. 

After a bit of visiting, we were getting hungry and decided to head into Rusk for dinner, rather than cook out as we had planned. We drove around town, but did not find much. We ended up at Dairy Queen, and enjoyed Steak Finger Baskets and $2.00 Blizzards.

After dinner we returned to the park and relaxed for the evening. We set up the fold-out bed/ inflatable mattress for my folks, and we hit the hay.

Tomorrow, we ride the train!