Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thankful for Family

Thursday November 26th, 2015

Today, we got up and got ready to head to Rockwall to enjoy Thanksgiving meal with our family. My folks, Tony's folks and brother came together to eat a Luby's Cafeteria, as they had advertised a special Thanksgiving menu.

Unfortunately we picked a time when everyone and their dog had the same idea! We had to wait about an hour until we were selecting our entrees. Most of us had traditional turkey and ham, dressing, gravy, cranberry sauce, and other typical holiday sides, plus a piece of pie. We opted for pumpkin, since we had others already during the trip.

Overall the meal was very good, and many of us had leftovers. We parted ways after discussing some Christmas plans, and all I am sure enjoyed naps or watching football. We took it easy watching the Cowboys get pounded (literally, Tony Romo was hit and injured again).

We had a quiet evening... the rains have begun (100% coverage tomorrow), and it is supposed to drop and stay in the 40s. Brrrrr! I'll be back to working.

Reflecting on today, we are truly blessed to get to enjoy traveling with our home, and visiting with our loved ones.

Happy Thanksgiving to ALL!

The Pie Duel and on to Terrell

Wednesday, November 25th

Today, we got a little bit of a slow start, but then started packing up to head to Terrell. Jay came by to say goodbye, as he had to head off to a meeting. We got almost entirely ready to leave, and decided to eat lunch before we headed out. We made some quick sandwiches, and ate them on the picnic table outside. The temperature was just right, and the sun was shining. Tomorrow starts a trend towards rain and colder temps, so it was nice to enjoy the outdoors. We also got Eileen's pic.

(Eileen pic to come)

We hitched up, said our final goodbyes to Stella, stopped by the dump station and headed out about 12:30.

We stopped a few times for restroom breaks as we went along 281 to Hico, then 220 to 67 to I-20. We saw the Texas Tech Red Raider Band semi stop for fuel in Lampasus. They were headed to Austin, as the Red Raiders play the University of Texas tomorrow.

Of course, you cannot go through Hico and not stop at the Koffee Kup for pie. They also were recognized in Texas Highways Magazine, as the #2 Pie in the State of Texas. So of course, we had to compare. Tony went in to get our pie, while I waited in the truck with the kitties.

The Koffee Kup, at the corner of 281 and 6. They have RV Parking in the back!

They cut and prepared our pie "to go", Tony got Chocolate Meringue again, and Peanut Butter Meringue for me.

We really enjoyed our pie. It was verrrry good, but their Chocolate Meringue did not compare to the Bluebonnet Cafe.

We got back on the road and continued on, getting into DFW traffic about 4:30 -- but luckily it wasn't too bad. 

We arrived at the Terrell RV Park (because Bluebonnet Ridge RV Park was full) at about 5pm. They only had two sites available (even though we made reservations for a pull-through), we ended up in a back-in. Tony didn't have any trouble getting into it, though, no curbs or trees or poles in the way! The other good thing is that it is not far from Terrell at all, where the other park would have been a 15min. drive into town.

Terrell RV Park is right off the interstate so you do hear the road noise, but the sites are long and level and not too close together. We got in and set up very quickly, as it was getting dark fast.

Our site

We also quickly got the antenna set up and tuned in, so we could watch Survivor, and then had dinner. As we ate we watched the traffic back up as the folks tried to exit for the (less than 1-year-old) Bucees, at Hwy 148. We can see the sign and the top of the building from our park.

We watched the tv show, then headed to bed. Tomorrow is Thanksgiving! We get to see our family!


Tuesday, November 24th, 2015

Today, we again took it easy in the morning, and I worked.

We decided to do some looking around the park and get propane, since one tank ran out on Sunday night. (of course!) After lunch (leftover Cooper's, YUM!) we roamed around the large State Park, then headed to Star Propane in Burnet to get our tank filled. We saw a few deer along the way. We stopped at the overlook along the Park Road, and someone about to leave the overlook offered to take our pic.

 a panoramic pic of the view

Once we returned, we picked up Jay & Stella and headed to Marble Falls, to the BlueBonnet Cafe and the #1 Pie in the State of Texas, according to Texas Highways Magazine. It was pie Happy Hour, so of course we planned to be there for that!

Tony's Chocolate Meringue

My Pecan, a la mode

Jay & Stella had coffee, and we had tea with our pies. They were all terrific. 

After pie, we headed back, but decided to stop into WalMart for a few things. After that, Tony fueled the truck and we headed back to the park. We were all tired from the excursion, so we parted ways.

Tony and I weren't hungry at dinner time, so we just snacked a bit, watched TV, and I worked late on a project, since I had been running around during the day. 

Sadly, tomorrow we have to leave. It's been a great mini vacation, we have enjoyed it all. 


Monday, November 23rd, 2015

Early in the morning, I woke up and it seemed a bit cooler than it should. Sure enough, the tank of propane had run out, and since tank #2 wasn't on, it did not switch over to the other tank. The heat was not running! it was 57 degrees inside! We huddled together, including the cats. When Tony finally got up, he took this pic of me and the boys, I was sandwiched in.

sealed with a cat!

After breakfast we took it easy, and I did some work. The boys enjoyed new sights and sounds out the window.

OOOH! Look! We are in a Texas State Park!

We ate lunch in the rig, did more organizing and such, and after lunch we made a quick repair to the D-seal over the living room slide. It had slid out of the channel as we drove, about 3 feet. We pushed it back in and Tony secured it with screws again.

We had agreed to meet up with Jay & Stella again to go eat at Cooper's Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que, ranked #2 Barbeque in the state of Texas by Texas Highways Magazine. We jumped in Jay's truck again, and away we went. We had a terrific meal, and even had leftovers for the next day.

The outdoor pit where you select your meat

Our choices: pork ribs, brisket and jalapeƱo cheese sausage.

After dinner, we all four headed back to the park to sit around a campfire, for a gathering of the Park Hosts. There were about 12 or so already there when we arrived, and they gladly widened the circle and welcomed us in. We had a great fire, and enjoyed the visiting, until the chilly wind decided to encourage us to go home about 8. It was enjoyable! Something we typically do not do ourselves.

Here are some better daylight pics of our site:

We parted ways again with Jay & Stella, and figured we'd get together tomorrow sometime. Tony wanted to go to Marble Falls for pie!

Thanksgiving Trip for the Mammoth

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Back a few months ago, we had talked about going to Pagosa Springs to ski and visit our Heartland friends, Dan & Ann. Unfortunately, we didn't plan very well and decided that with all the things necessary to make a long-distance trip happen and be prepared to ski -- we just weren't ready. We also didn't take into account how busy the month of October was going to be for Tony, working nearly every weekend (marching band contests). So we were sad to have to postpone our visit with them.

Tony still had the week off, so we decided just a few days before, that we might consider taking Mammoth to Terrell to visit family. However, we had to wait to see the outcome of the Cisco playoff game, to see when we needed to return.

Sadly, Cisco lost the game in a heartbreaker in double over-time. The good news was that we wouldn't have to rush back to Cisco for a football game.

We decided to take a trip instead down to Inks Lake State Park, near Burnet, for a few days before heading to Terrell. Our Heartland friends Jay & Stella are park hosting there, so we were able to coordinate with them to get a spot nearby.

It took quite a bit of work to find travel locations for all our stuff. We did not pull out until 2PM! I think with all that work, we realized it was probably a very good thing we didn't try to go for a long trip. We also realized we were more out of shape and out of the practice of traveling than we thought!

On the road again!

The drive was uneventful -- I don't think we even stopped except a quick restroom break. We arrived at Inks lake about 4:45PM.

Trying to set up before it gets dark!

We went to the spot that Jay and Stella had recommended, and had a bit of a challenge to get into it. It was a pull through, but the turn into it was a little sharp for a rig our length. We decided to pull past the "exit" of the site and back in. It took a little bit, but Tony made the Mammoth fit. The site, surprisingly, was sloped much like our site in Cisco!

We got set up enough and turned on the furnace, (it was dropping into the 50s) and Jay & Stella offered to take us out to eat pizza buffet at Mr. Gatti's in Kingsland, for supper. Jay was driving, and going slow on the dark Park Road. He said he was watching for deer. Sure enough, one did jump out in front of us, but Jay was able to slow and avoid it.

We had a good meal and visit, then returned to the park. We parted ways, and we did a little to get the living room livable, watched a little tv, then went to bed. A long day, but glad we are here!!

Washer Dryer Combo Duce!

Saturday, Oct 31, 2015

Today we headed to PPL Motorhomes in Cleburne to see about a washer/dryer combo purchase for Mammoth. They were having a sale, and I certainly didn't want to risk shipping such a large product. After 3 months of using a laundromat, we had decided that having our own machine would be easier -- less time consuming, and easier to get Tony's school band director shirts washed in a timely manner when he needs them.

I had researched and we decided to purchase the Pinnacle SuperCombo, which allows the user to choose between vented and ventless operation. We weren't sure we would install the dryer vent in the Mammoth (which requires drilling a 4-inch hole in the side), so this Combo W/D gave us the option.

We made the purchase, along with a few other things including a pan that goes under the unit to catch leaks, and headed home. The unit slid into the back of my small SUV just fine. Once we slid it out again and got it over to the coach steps, We were able to tip the unit onto the first step, then tilt it into the rig onto its side to get it in. We then uprighted it and took the box off of it. 

We were not able to get it installed right away -- it took a week or so to get time to do it. In that time, we researched where to install the vent, and I ordered the dryer vent pieces from Amazon.

Here's a few pics of the install:

Hole cut for the vent

Installing the vent cover

Vent pipe, pan, and overflow hose ready for the Combo

Pinnacle SuperCombo installed

Getting the unit up the stairs inside was a little easier, as they are carpeted. We tipped the unit onto its side once again to go up the steps, uprighted it, then put furniture-moving feet under it to slide it over to the closet for install (carefully removing the "locking rods" before final placement.)

After a week of use, we determined that the unit was not performing as we expected. The air coming out of the vent did not have much pressure, and the side of the unit got very hot. There was also an funny smell, suggesting something was burning or getting way too warm.

After getting a very challenging response from the manufacturer, (they wanted to send a tech to assess the issue, then send parts for the tech repair -- so two "visits" to attempt to fix, rather than swap the unit out,) we decided to contact the seller and exchange the unit for a Splendide Combo Vented unit, instead. PPL was extremely easy to deal with and helped us make the exchange very easy. (The hard part was of course getting the old unit out and back into the car, then the new unit back in the rig and installed.)

The second install went much easier than the first, because we knew what we were doing. :)

Now we have the new Splendide, and we are far more satisfied with its performance!

New Splendide Combo 2100XC installed

Monday, November 9, 2015

Mammoth gets some upgrades

October 2015

Well, it's November, and time just seems to fly. We haven't been on any trips with the Mammoth, but we have done a few things to her to make living in the RV a little easier. 

Here's a few things we've done:

We decided to get a universal RV stove cover, and now use that surface to place our new NuWave induction cooktop. The cooktop is great! We had to get new cookware to use it, however the cookware is much better than out old stuff and can be used on gas if we want to. The cooktop is just one "burner" so you have to plan accordingly. It heats via the magnetic field through the pan, and digitally controls the temperature to be exact. That's great for me, no more guessing if it's too hot or not enough. 

Stovetop cover and new induction cooktop. We've since turned the cooktop 90* so the cord isn't at a strange angle.

 Another upgrade, not to Mammoth but to the truck, was to finally add running boards! We asked Tony's coworker to do it, as well as new Hawk brake pads. Both definitely help the truck do its job!!

Another addition to the Mammoth was a metal sign. We saw this vendor at the State Fair of Texas last year, but we were not prepared to buy and they only sell in person --they are strictly a traveling vendor -- no online sales. So, I was prepared for what I wanted, this year! It's entirely custom, they design it while you watch, then it's cut out of colored vinyl and applied to a white metal shape. It looks great over the door. 

Another project was to replace the motor for the fireplace. We had a replacement part sent under warranty last spring, but had not got around to installing it. It takes removing the fireplace and disassembling the top to get to the innards. It's not hard but it takes two people to do it. We did the work in about an hour, and we have supplemental heat again!  The fireplace is great for chilly mornings that eventually warm up, so you don't have to run the big ol' furnace. 

One more project was to upgrade our shoe racks. We have a place to keep shoes in racks on the peninsula, this helps keep them up off the floor and out of the way. Well, we end up with more shoes than we had rack, so I found some new longer racks. Have to add pic later. 

{well, as requested, here's a pic. Right now the shoes are not in the rack and the rack is relocated due to the Combo w/d sitting where they are until it's installed, but here's a pic I was able to crop so you can see the racks. They are held onto the front of the wall with command hooks. And yes, these are the new ones and we still have too many shoes!!!}

Another couple I forgot! Our propane detector was "out of date". According to the date stamped on it, it needed replacement in June of 2015. We haven't had issues with it, but they say they lose effectiveness over time. We replaced it with the same brand, a Safe-t-alert, but the new one detects propane and Carbon monoxide. We have dedicated CO detectors, but it never hurts to have another one. The model: MTI 35-742-WT White LP and Carbon Monoxide Flush Mount Detector.
Tony installing the propane detector

We also replaced the smoke detector with one recommended by Mac The Fire Guy: a Kidde Pi9010 Battery Dual Photoelectric and Ionization Sensor Smoke Alarm, which senses slow smoldering fires as well as fast burning ones. The grea part is it has a HUSH button, to shut it off quickly when the toaster slightly burns the toast!

The month of October we enjoyed a pretty mum hanging on a Shepard's hook at the edge of our site. Here's a few pics as it bloomed:

Our next project will be to install our new Pinnacle combo washer/dryer. Look for that in an upcoming post!  

By the way, we did take a few trips that could have been trailer trips if we wanted:

Trip to San Antonio to watch UIL State Marching Competition. Trip to Terrell to visit, and Dallas to see the Musical, The Sound of Music. 

We had to miss a few Rallies this fall, and we've been sad about that. But it kind of helped us decide to become the West Texas Chapter Leaders of the Heartland Owners Club! We will be hosting our inaugural Rally in Quanah, TX in March. 

So long for now!