Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Heading Home Again

Monday, June 27, 2016

Today, we got going quickly since we knew we wanted to get on the road fast. We made quick work of trailer prep, but then we realized that the big fuel tank was nearly empty. We'd used a lot of fuel to get here, as well as all our running around. Since the cats were already in their box, we just loaded them in the truck and went and got fuel.

Eileen, Lost Alaskan RV Park, Alpine, TX

We got on the road a little later than expected, but made good time. We were going to go back a different route through San Angelo, but there were heavy stationary storms along that route that were causing flooding -- not something we wanted to drive into -- so we went back the way we came.

We drove through some rain on our way to Fort Stockton, but it looked like we really missed the heavy stuff.

We stopped in Monahans for lunch at McDonalds with truck parking, and then continued on.

We got back to our home park about 5:15pm and got set up again. We're getting good at this! By 6pm I was running to Eastland for mail and picking up dinner.

Although it was a quick scouting trip, it was a good one. I can't wait for our rally this spring!

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Mountains, mountains, love it here!

Sunday, June 26th, 2016

Today we were a little slower to get going, but still hit the door about 10:30 to go exploring. We needed to check out a few more venues for the rally planning. We headed first to Fort Davis, TX where the Fort Davis Historic Site is located, considered one of the best preserved 19th century frontier forts. 

Also there is the Davis Mountains State Park, and the beginning of the Davis Mountains scenic loop. 

We did not take time to stop at the Fort or in town, but we did drive through the State Park. It has a great scenic view up on top of one of the rolling hills, overlooking Fort Davis and the State Park.

Tony at the scenic overlook, the state park over his right shoulder, Fort Davis off to his left.
Another scenic overlook with shelter built by the CCC.

One of the loops with larger trailers in the State Park. We saw a triple-axle Cyclone.

We also discovered the Indian Lodge, at the opposite end of the park. (See first pic above, the white building off to the left.)

The 1930s lodge houses guests, and they also serve meals at the Black Bear Restaurant, so that's where we had lunch.

There is no AT&T cell service out here, but the Lodge did have (slow) wifi. I took care of some business while we were here. 

After lunch we headed on to follow the Davis Mountains scenic loop: 118 to 166.

On the way we stopped to go to the McDonald Observatory

The observatory's three largest instruments are the 362" Hobby-Eberly telescope on 6,600-foot Mount Fowlkes, the 107" Harlan J. Smith and 82" Otto Struve telescopes located on 6,800-foot Mt. Locke. The observatory is located just 17 miles from Fort Davis on Texas Highway 118 and under one of the darkest night skies of any major observatory in the continental United States.

It was starting to cloud up as we arrived, and started to pour while we were inside.
We got to view their museum, and learn about their offerings for daytime and nighttime tours. The drive up here is a long one from the park... hilly, curvy and I'm sure very dark at night! You do have to have reservations in advance to go to their events, and we did not make any. Will note that for next time.

Once the rain let up a little we headed back to the truck and on to more touring. The scenery was unique and amazing! Some of it was quite obscured by the rain we encountered, but that made a unique experience as well.

The highest elevation on the Loop is about 6700 feet, making it the highest public highway in Texas. About 1.5 hours to drive Click here for map.

When we had almost completed the loop, we turned and headed back by way of Marfa, TX. Marfa is a tourist destination and a major center for Minimalist art. Attractions include Building 98, the Chinati Foundation, artisan shops, historical architecture, a classic Texas town square, modern art installments, art galleries, and the Marfa lights. We didn't really stop and look, but wanted to know what all was there. It is definitely a place I want to explore more. 

We also drove by the Marfa Lights observatory. Very nice facility. 
Pic from the web of the Marfa Lights Observatory.

Sadly, not enough time or energy to go see the Marfa Lights this trip. 

We got back home about 4:30. We ate leftover pizza, made some decisions about the rally, watched a little tv and then prepped the rig for travel tomorrow. This was a fast and furious trip! We didn't even go to Big Bend National Park! But we enjoyed it and look forward to our rally in the Spring.

Museum, Cow Dogs, Brews and Pizza

Saturday, June 25th, 2016

Today we got up fairly early, and Tony went and got us donuts. They were very good! A definite thumbs up for rally needs. 

After we were dressed, we headed over to the park office to discuss some rally business with the park staff. We have a really great feeling about this park! 

Afterward, we headed to the Museum of the Big Bend, located on Sul Ross University campus. We had located the museum yesterday in our drive around town. 

The museum has a lot of informational panels, artifacts and displays depicting the story of Big Bend, from prehistoric times to recent times. The Big Bend has quite a history, being occupied by Indians, Spanish, Mexicans, Texans, and ultimately becoming a US National Park. It was very interesting.

After the museum, we noticed a large area nearby full of horse trailers with mounted officers and law enforcement personnel all around. They were preparing for a funeral procession for famous Texas Ranger, Joaquin Jackson, a local resident. We saw a long line of law enforcement vehicles, lights flashing, on another street, about the time of the funeral.

We headed downtown for lunch to eat at a food truck establishment called Cow Dog. It is located in an old motor home, semi-permanently parked on a corner. They had tables and more seating inside the building they are parked next to, but all the ordering and cooking is done at the RV.

The Cow Dog RV between us.

I had a "hangover dog" and Tony had a "green chile dog". They were both very good, and we enjoyed sitting outside and watching the people and traffic go by. 

After lunch, we headed back to the rig for a bit, and rested. 

About 2:30 we headed over to Big Bend Brewing Company, to do their brewery tour and sampling. Unfortunately the tour was delayed almost an hour due to staffing issues, but we did enjoy the brew sampling. A note to anyone wanting to do this, the brewery is not air conditioned, and it does get warm in there! They have areas you can walk to outside, but without a good breeze it gets toasty.

Going to the brewery

On the tour
Canning the beer

After the tour, we headed home again for a while, both of us taking a snooze in our recliners! About 6 we headed out to go try another place to eat, Guzzi Up, an Italian food place located in a former gas station. The food was pretty good. We had cheesy garlic bread appetizer, and then a large pizza. The pizza could have had more meat on it, but it was tasty. They got busy and the service was a bit slow in the end. 

Pic from Yelp.
Our pizza

After dinner we went back to the rig, then went for a walk around the park. We decided we needed to spend another day to get more information for our rally, so we went to the office and asked to extend our stay another day.

After that we headed back to the rig, but stopped and visited briefly with some other Heartland Owners. One was not happy with his unit, but it sounded like his dealer had really treated him unfairly.

Once home again, we had some spotty showers in the area that were cooling off temps. We enjoyed being outside for a bit. 
We watched a little tv, I did some work, then we hit the hay. A busy day today!

Head to the Mountains -- of Texas?

Friday, June 24, 2016

Today we were ready to hit the ground running, headed to Alpine, TX to check out an RV Park for an upcoming West Texas Chapter Rally. Alpine is the gateway to the Big Bend region, which has mountains, yes, in Texas! 

We managed to pull out about 9am, but decided to go to Eastland to check our PO box for an incoming customer's check. No check, oh well, but we were on the way to Alpine by 9:15.

The GPS wanted to take us odd places again, but we stuck to the interstate, taking I-20 west to Monahans, then south from there.

We stopped a few more times than we liked, but each time there was a good reason -- we had a hiccup driving that felt like we got something or something broke, so we had to check it out. We found nothing.

A few more rest stops, due to it being hot out and we drank more than usual.

And the usual stop for lunch. 

Mountains off in the distance! In Texas!

We got to the Lost Alaskan RV Park about 4, and were set up by 5. The temperature was not too bad, since there were clouds in the area, and the humidity was still low. About 90 degrees, but felt pleasant in the shade.

After we were sufficiently set up we headed to go eat at one of the restaurants we'd picked out to try for rally options, called LaCasita (Mexican food). We didn't have too much trouble finding it, but had to go get some cash because they don't take credit cards. We then went in and had a really good meal. The place is a bit of a hole in the wall, but I would go back because of the quesadillas! They were great!

After dinner, we drove around the town of Alpine for a while, getting the lay of the land. The town is surrounded by hills, and there are lots of pine and spruce trees around!

We then went and scoped out the park's rally hall, then went back to the trailer and relaxed, it was a long drive here.

Our site, #12 at the Lost Alaskan RV Park.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

A Father's Day Getaway

Saturday, June 18th, 2016

Today, we were headed to visit family in Terrell, as well as take some items to our storage units and retrieve some other items.

Before we headed out, this week we cleaned out some things and rearranged items in our storage unit near us, in anticipation of the trip. Tony did some errands, as I was having a busy work week, and we got everything ready to go on Friday.

One of the things we've been needing to do is get the trailer tires balanced, so I made an appointment at Discount Tire in Weatherford for Saturday morning.

We actually got on the road sooner than expected, and got to Discount Tire a little early. We were able to get right in and get the tires done fairly quickly, thanks to our Level-Up system where we can lift each side of the trailer enough to get the wheels off the ground.

Once the tires were done, we stopped and got a quick bite at Whataburger, and then headed to Terrell without incident.

We arrived and got set up about 2:00, in the humid heat, and man, was it HOT! We spent the afternoon just sitting, trying to get cool as the ACs worked their hardest. We both had to take showers to cool off and get comfortable again.

In the evening, we were invited to go eat dinner with Tony's folks and sister. We had a good time visiting and eating one of our Terrell favorites, Carmona's Tex Mex.

After dinner, we could see a beautiful thunderhead off in the distance. It did not make it to us, but someone got some relief from the heat!

We parted ways and headed back to Bluebonnet Ridge RV Resort, our park of choice when we come to visit.

Sunday, June 19th, 2016

Today, Tony had plans to go with his Dad to Durant for some Casino fun. I had some work to do, but once that was to a certain point, I went to go eat with my folks in Mesquite. 

I wanted to go to IKEA to look at a new desktop, and so I invited them to come along, since they had never been. We drove out to Frisco, TX to IKEA, and they got to see the amazing shopping experience it is. After about half the store, they were getting tired, so I finished looking and made my purchases, then we headed home. They got to see parts of the metroplex that they had not seen in a long while. -- Man, is it growing -- it still amazes me how much "progress" there is around DFW. All I can say is that now, after living away from the Metroplex, I certainly don't miss the crazy drivers and all that hurry!

My reason for going to IKEA -- the new tabletop for the desk -- is because the original one was warping, and since it was 59" wide in a 72" space, it never really fit well. My new top is 2" thick, and 67" wide! Although I will miss the brightness of the gray top, this one will work better in the long run. It is black/brown wood, and matches the drawer cabinet.

After I returned my folks to their house, I headed back to the park, as Tony was also heading that way. We arrived about 15 minutes apart, around 7:00PM.  We had a relaxing evening in front of the TV -- until we both crashed about 10.

It was very nice that we got to spend time with our dads on Father's Day!

Monday, June 20th, 2016

Today, we had planned to get up and go to our storage unit to get some things and drop off some things. We also disassembled my desk, in anticipation of storing the old tabletop. (We decided not to store it, as Tony may have a use for it at school.)

We loaded up the truck with items we were taking, but work was demanding my attention, so Tony went to get some fuel at Buc-ees, while he waited for me.

I was still working when he was done, so he ran some more errands around town. He went to Ham's Orchard and got us some Peach ice cream! And he went to Pop's Honey Fried Chicken and got us lunch. Two establishments of Terrell we miss!

After lunch, I was still trying to get some work finished up, so Tony headed to the warehouse by himself and took care of the swap. I also went over to the park's laundry area, and did a load in their commercial washer, just to help get ahead of the laundry. While I was at the office, we got a quick little rain shower -- just enough to make it hot and steamy!

Tony returned and took a shower, and napped a little in his chair, until our dinner plans, in Rockwall, with my folks.

Before we got going, we decided to go check out another RV park nearby, that we saw a sign for, as we exited onto 2728. It's called Rockin' Sunset  RV Park. We drove through the park, and it was pretty well-kept. The amenities in the clubhouse/office are top notch as well. This looks like a nice choice if Bluebonnet is full, in the future.

We headed to Rockwall to eat dinner at El Chico with my folks, and had a nice visit. After dinner, we parted ways and Tony & I ran some errands. We even ran into my folks again at Lowes!

We headed home, and collapsed for a bit, watched some TV, then started prepping for leaving in the morning. We put the new desktop in place, but have parts to attach my side drawer cabinet to the top and also attach it to the floor, once we get back to our home park. We hope to get an early start in the morning.

Tuesday, June 21st, 2016

We got up and got going pretty quickly, but I had some work issues to take care of that delayed us about 30 minutes. We still pulled out about 9am. The drive home was pretty quick, we had no traffic or road issues. I was even able to finalize a work project while stopped at a rest stop!

We pulled into the park just before 12:00, and were set up by 12:30. Tony took a shower and ate quickly, as he had a meeting at school to get to. I went back to working as well, but set up on the bed, since the bedroom AC cools quicker and more efficiently! It was 84 degrees inside when we set up -- the ACs need about 3-4 hours to really cool the whole rig down.

All in all, a quick and busy trip, but very glad to get to hug my family!!!

Sunday, June 12, 2016

We know the way! Quit that!

Tuesday, June 7th, 2016

Today, we got up and got going fairly quickly, took Eileen's picture and pulled out of the park about 9:15am. We headed south on I-35, but decided to follow the GPS to exit and head "cross country" back to home.

Eileen at Winstar Casino RV Park, Thackerville, OK

Ready to roll!

Once across into Texas, in Gainesville, we took Hwy 51 southwest to Decatur. From there, the GPS was trying to take us further south, which did not make sense to us, so we took 380 West to Graham, then 67 South to Breckenridge, and 183 South to Cisco. All the while, the GPS was suggesting other routes, I guess trying to get us to I-20, which was probably faster. However, many of the county roads it was suggesting did not look as good as the route we were on, which had good shoulders. We muted it, since we knew the way, but I know we'll be strongly considering a different RV GPS for our next big trip.

We stopped at a little roadside picnic area, just outside of Bryson, for a rest stop. We were already hungry even though it was 11:15AM, so we decided to go ahead and make sandwiches for lunch there. It was a peaceful little stop.

On the road again, we made good time. As we got into Eastland County, we saw more evidence of last week's high water, still standing or flowing fast in creeks in many places. Breckenridge had flooding in town last week, and we saw many businesses that looked like they were in the clean-up process.

We had no trouble getting into our pull-through site again at the home park, and set up quickly. It was hot and humid!

"Home" again!

We called the owner of our park along the way, and verified that the park is not on Cisco water supply, so we would not have to be under those strict water restrictions like the residents of Cisco. We will continue to pray for a solution to the water woes for them!

After a little rest, Tony headed to work to check on some things, and I managed to drift off and nap for a bit... then I worked all evening.

We had a good trip, but it's back to work for both of us!

(P.S., I updated the other posts for this trip with the pics! Go back and see them!)

Monday, June 6, 2016

On the road to Texas

Monday, June 7th, 2016

Well today, we surprisingly got up and got going fast, and were ready to leave by 9am. We said our goodbyes and hit the road -- Only to miss our first exit! Luckily we didn't have to go too far out of the way to get back on track. We did see a deer that crossed our path, thanks to the detour.

Eileen at Basswood Country Inn RV Resort, Platt City, MO

Eileen at Basswood Country Inn RV Resort, Platt City, MO

We had an uneventful trip, only stopping occasionally for restroom breaks in the rig, and lunch and a snack. The weather was 80s and sunny, with little wind.

We stayed on I-35 through Oklahoma City, and although the road was in poor condition, we DID NOT have to worry about low bridges. LOL!

We made good time and arrived at our destination for the night, WinStar Casino's RV Resort in Thackerville, OK. This is almost at the Oklahoma/Texas border. We have never stayed here, but have been to the casino before, on a day trip. The park is very nice with long cement pull-through sites with large picnic areas beside them. They are also unique that they have hookups on either side, so it doesn't matter which way you pull-through the site. The Oklahoma Chapter has had rallies here before, but we've not been able to attend. I don't blame them, it's really nice!

Once we arrived and set up and ate dinner, Tony went to the casino while I did some more work.

Set up at Winstar RV Park, Thackerville, OK

A status update on the flooding in Cisco: Rain has stopped now for the past 2 days and water is receding. They received a portable water treatment plant truck from out of state, but it is struggling to keep up with demand. The Cisco water treatment plant is a complete loss, so they are working to build a new one in a new location. Since this was a disaster, things are on a faster track than normal, and they are hoping to get a solution sooner rather than later. The road reconstruction contractor has already begun work on Hwy 6, according to TXDOT. Bottled water continues to be available for all who need it, and the Red Cross has brought cleaning supplies and other items to help those that lost property in the flooding.

Since we are not sure of the water supplier for the park we live in, we'll check and see if we need to prepare for restricted water use or not. We should be able to put water in our fresh supply tank, and it will last about a week, if we have to!

We have a much shorter distance to go to get home tomorrow, so that will be nice.

Getting busily back to work is in store for both of us once we return, but we already have some plans for some shorter trips coming up this summer.

More work and relaxing and leftovers

Sunday, June 5th, 2016

Today, we took it easy and didn't move very fast. Some folks were leaving today, so we said our goodbyes to them. Mid-morning found us looking at various folks' modifications to their rigs, rig touring and more visiting.

In the afternoon, I did some more work to wrap up the first proof on the project I was doing, and continued to get the laundry done. Tony went and got fuel in the big tank for the journey home.

Mambo enjoys the afternoon sun.

At 6PM, we were invited to join together for leftovers in the Rally Hall. We all brought something and had another good meal together. After dinner we visited with a group outside Dave and Nancy's rig. They had a nice shady pop-up canopy.  About 9PM, folks decided to head home, in preparation of most of us leaving in the morning.

It's been a fun time! I wish we could have done more sightseeing this trip, but we'll definitely be back.

A Rally Good Time

Saturday, June 4th, 2016

Today the Missouri Chapter sponsored breakfast for everyone, and it was very good. a few egg/sausage/cheese/potato casseroles, bacon, sausage, biscuits and gravy. Lots of food and fellowship! After breakfast, Tony and I visited some, gave a rig tour, and did some laundry. We also made Tony's mom's marshmallow fruit salad for the potluck. After lunch, I went to work, and he took a nap and then ran an errand to pick up a few things.

Heartlands all around!

More Heartlands!

And more!

Our site.

The rally hall

Tango enjoying the view

Enjoying the Rally!

At 6PM, it was time for the potluck, so we headed to the rally hall. It was a great meal of Bratwurst and potluck fixin's, along with some more dessert from the dutch oven. After dinner, we had some doorprize drawings, and we won an electric bug-zapper (looks like a tennis racket)! The grand prize was a machine-stitched quilted table runner made by Sally E. It was beautiful! Debbie B won it, and later posted pics of it on her table on Facebook. It looked perfect there! Bob Curry worked to take the group picture, hopefully it will be shared and I'll add it here.

Attendees at the Missouri Chapter Rally

Potluck Dinner!

After dinner, many folks played more dominos, and others went and enjoyed a fire at the community fire pit, while others sat around and visited some more. We gave another rig tour to a new couple, and then we got to see their Landmark Charleston. Very nice! But I like mine better.

Some fireside chat with Chris and Diane, attending their first rally.

About 10PM, we headed for home. It was a fun and busy day!

More water, work and rally

Friday, June 3, 2016

Today, we got up and found more bad news at home, more flooding at Lake Leon and water as high as 6 feet over the flood stage at Lake Cisco. The water supply was quickly being diminished, and at some point there would be no water. The requests for bottled water began -- The community center and a local church became distributors for water, and the donations came rolling in from all over -- Brookshires, WalMart, Home Depot, and many others donated truckloads and pallet loads of water for the townspeople and any who were without. Pray for Cisco! They will need it to get though this difficult time.

Mid-morning, I walked up to the Basswood RV Resort office to see if I could get some info on the Wifi, and picked up a few items from their well-equipped store. On the way back I stopped and visited with some folks, but then I had to get back to work.

Tony went around and visited a while, then ended up going touring the area with Jay and Stella to see the house where Jesse James was killed, and the Pony Express Museum. He said it was interesting, and had a good time, especially not having to drive!

Stella at the Pony Express Museum

Jay at the Pony Express Museum

Jesse James Home

This is the where the bullet that killed Jesse James went into the wall.
(See framed "hole" just below the picture, top left.)

Friday night was the meet and greet, where we got to share some dutch-oven-cooked desserts with ice cream. They were amazing!

Roy cooking his Dutch Oven "Jordan Mud"

The final result!

It was nice to meet everyone, and then I played some dominoes with the group  (we had two tables of 5 going) until about 11PM. I was rusty, and only won one hand. But had a good time.