Friday, March 24, 2017

Last rally day and headed home

Sunday, March 19th, 2017

Today we again got up early to  get breakfast ready, this time a "Grab and Go" style packaged pastry, coffee and juice.

We got to see the usual suspects this morning, and a few were packing up to head out -- but many were staying.

We had to pack up ourselves, so while Tony did most of the prep, I worked on rig prep in anticipation of leaving.

At 10am, we "closed down" the breakfast service, and packed up the remainder. Some items were left for folks staying on, as Monica A. had agreed to host a potluck dinner Sunday night with Tamales she purchased in San Antonio. We later heard they had a good turnout of around 30 folks!

About 10:30am we finished up getting hitched and ready to pull out. Of course, many folks came around to say goodbye, and we had to stop a few times on our way out of the park.

We had a great time hosting the rally here, and hope to be back again someday. We'll see many of our Heartland friends again in Goshen, and maybe before if we can swing it to go to another rally.

We made good time getting home, and by 6:30 we were setting up again in our home park. Ready to face the work-week tomorrow. ARGH! We both need a vacation to recover! But we would not change it for the world, we like doing this.

Meat cookin', museum tourin', raffle winnin' good times!

Saturday, March 18th, 2017

Today, we had leftover coffee and donuts in the Rally Hall for folks. Not too many showed up, but it was nice to visit with those that did.

At 12:50, Heartlanders met at the front entrance to carpool over to The Museum of the Big Bend, at Sol Ross University in Alpine.

We had about 6-7 trucks in caravan again, and some that met us there. The museum is not very large, so it doesn't take too long to go through it. We all had a good time. By 2:30, most folks had seen it and headed on to do their own thing.

Some were going over to the Big Bend Brewing Co. for tasting and tour. We headed to the store for a few more things, and then back to the park to get the raffle items ready, and to get started cooking the sides for tonight.

At 5pm, Tony headed over to pick up the Cobbler we ordered from Come and Take It BBQ, while I prepped the rally hall, and taking the raffle items over.

At 5:30, we had our official group picture.

Our attendees!

The meal was supposed to start at 6, but it was closer to 6:30 before the meat, from "Meat Man Mike", aka HornedToad, aka Mike Bowden, was ready. No worries, as it gave us time to sell more tickets and visit!
Mike busy on the grill

The meal consisted of smoked brisket, ribs, 3 kinds of sausage, and 2 kinds of chicken. Then there was BBQ beans, Potato Salad, Regular Salad, Corn and Green Beans, plus bread and Cobbler for dessert!

Waiting for the meat

It's ready!

Folks loading up their plates!

We had a lot left over, but everyone got something they could enjoy and everyone left full.

After the meal, we had our Raffle and Auction. We had great response and made a good bit of money for our next Rally.

Our own President and founder Jim Beletti won a yard sign. We wouldn't be a family without him!

After the raffle and auctions were over, folks took some leftovers home, and helped us clean up. We prepped the space for in the morning, took out the trash and headed back to the rig -- stopping to visit folks that stopped us along the way to say what a great time they had. That was nice to hear! 

We got done and hit the hay. We ached all over from today, but were very happy the Rally was enjoyed. 

Getting Our O'Rally On!

Friday, March 17th, 2017

Happy St. Patricks Day! Not that we are big celebrators, but I did notice most everyone wore their green.

This morning, we got up early to prepare for the first "Official" Rally event: Breakfast! With Donuts from Baker's Dozen Donuts. Tony had already arranged for the donuts, so he got coffee started and then headed to get the donuts. We had covered the tables the day before, and set out all the things we needed, so we didn't have to do too much.

We had a good batch of folks come in and eat donuts.

Sadly, it was also the day Tori was heading home, back to East Texas. We really enjoyed getting to spend time with her, and hopefully she enjoyed getting to see a part of Texas unlike anywhere else.

Forgot to post this on the day we toured Alpine. The three of us, selfie by Tori!

After the breakfast, we worked to straighten up the rig some and get it back to seating/sleeping for 2 instead of 3. Tony and I decided to go eat Mexican food at La Casita.  It's a little house that you would not think was a restaurant, except for all the cars parked there. They don't take credit cards, either. We had wonderful Quesadillas!

After lunch, we wondered around the park some, greeted new folks coming in, and then worked to get the rally hall ready for the evening events.

At 4:30PM, we had everyone gather for the Meet-n-Greet. We had everyone bring finger foods, and also a white elephant gift in a brown bag.

We had a great time visiting with folks, and then the opening of the White Elephant gifts. It was a lot of fun!

After dinner, we walked around and stopped to visit a few folks. It was a good beginning to the rally!

Mountains and Forts and Lights, Oh My!

Thursday, March 16th, 2017

Today, Tori wanted to go exploring again, so Tony and she decided to head over to Davis Mountains State Park, and also Ft. Davis Historical Site. I stayed back at the RV, in anticipation of 4 more rigs showing up today.

They went to eat lunch at the Indian Lodge there at the State Park, and had a nice meal. They did some exploring, including hiking up to the overlook that lets you see the town of Ft. Davis. Supposedly, you can hike down to the Historical Site, but it's quite a ways.

Tony said there was a disabled man there that could not get to see everything, but Tori helped him out, taking pictures with the man's iPad for him.

After their tour of the State Park, they went back down to the Fort Davis Historic Site. Some other Heartlanders happened to be going in at the same time with a National Park Pass, and included Tony and Tori in his "group" to get in for free.

Ft. Davis Historic Site

Tony and Tori at Ft. Davis Historic Site

I worked on some more paperwork for the Rally, and greeted folks as they came in, taking their rally bags to them. I also went to the office to check on a few things.

More Heartlanders coming in!

About 4:30, Tony and Tori returned to the park, Hungry! So we gathered up and headed over to Subway for a quick meal, and a stop in to the Grocery store to get needed rally items.

We headed back to the RV park and Tony was wiped out, so he stayed home. At 7:15PM, Tori and I headed to the front of the park to lead the rally attendees to go see the Marfa Lights, at the Marfa Lights viewing station. We had a caravan of about 7 trucks follow us out there.

On the way there, we passed a herd of some kind of sheep, with curled horns on the shoulder of the highway. At first I thought they were deer. They did not look very wild, and we passed so quickly it was hard to tell what they were.

Once we arrived at the viewing station, we set up chairs in two groups, hoping to see something! Mostly there was a lot of skepticism, but overall folks enjoyed hanging out and "thinking" they might be seeing something.

A beautiful sunset as we waited for the Marfa Lights.

Some Heartlanders on the upper level, some on the ground.

There are tiny lights waaaayy out there

We did see lights, but they looked suspiciously like car lights to many of us.

About 9:45PM we decided to call it a night. We and many others packed up and headed home. It was a good time, and now we can say "Yes!" When they ask if we went to the Marfa Lights.

It was a fun day!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Hiking and Star Gazing

Wednesday, March 15th, 2017

Today, we got up and got going a little slower than we wanted, but Tori wanted to do the Hike at Hancock Hill. Tony agreed to do that, while I stayed back and did some work, as well as greet new folks coming in and get rally bags to those that didn't have them yet.

Tony and Tori hiked the hill! Alpine behind them!

On top of the world!

Although they did not find the desk, they said others did not either. Apparently there are lots of trails up there, and they didn't want to get lost. Oh well, they had a good time!

While they were gone, I visited with a number of folks around the park.

After they returned from the hike, we decided to eat lunch. I made sandwiches and had them ready when they came in.

Both Tony and Tori were pretty tired, and they took a nap on the recliners while I did a little work.

For dinner, we headed over to eat pizza in town at Guzzi Up. We had a good meal, and even some live music from a guy playing guitar and singing 70s and 80s tunes.

At 7:15PM, many attendees had made reservations to go the McDonald Observatory for the Star Party at 8:45 this evening, so we caravanned there.

Because the event is outdoors, we were restricted from using our phones -- any white light would contaminate the viewing for ourselves and others, so we didn't use our phones from dusk onward. Here's a photo and one borrowed from the Observatory's website.

Tori at the McDonald Observatory

Heartlanders waiting for the Star Party to start.

McDonald Observatory outdoor amphitheater 

The program was amazing, because the stars were so bright! They used a laser pointer to point to the constellations and other stars and galaxies. Then, we could go and look through various telescopes set up around the perimeter of the seating area, to view up close the different things we were shown earlier with the pointer. It was really incredible.

While in line for one of the telescopes, Tony realized he no longer had his wallet. We were just trying to figure out what to do,  when an announcement came over the loudspeaker... "Tony Dorsey, return to the Information Desk!" Yay! Someone had turned in his wallet!

After he retuned, we looked through one more telescope, and decided to call it a night. Many of the other Heartlanders had already left.

Upon returning to the truck, we noticed a headlight was out! Why does this only happen on trips?

We made it back to Alpine just fine.

Full moon rising, about 10:30pm.

We quickly got ready for bed, and crashed. It was after 11PM!

A Tour of Alpine

Tuesday, March 14th, 2017

Today, we all got up about 8:30-9am, and ate breakfast, got dressed. It was chilly that night for Tori, sleeping on our fold-out couch in the living room, but she said she slept pretty solid all night.

We asked Tori to help us prepare the rally bags for the attendees. We pulled all the stuff from the rig, and set up an assembly line in the rally hall. It took a while, but we got it done! We made 25 bags up.

After we were done, we headed into Alpine to do some looking around. We drove around the main downtown part of Alpine, then went to eat at Magoo's.

They were out of Chicken, so I had Green Chilie CHEESE enchiladas instead. Tony had the Green Chile Chicken Fried Steak, and Tori had regular enchiladas. The meal was very good!

We then headed to downtown to walk around and go in some of the shops.

I didn't take many pics, but here are a few.

Three nesting ceramic bowls that combined, look like a cactus!

One of the wonderful murals in the area.

The historic Holland Hotel

Inside the Holland Hotel, a strong spanish-influenced architecture.

A tumbleweed light inside Plaine Coffee -- next door to Tumbleweed Laundry.

After walking around and looking in shops, we decided it was getting a little warm in the afternoon, so we stopped and had ice cream at Plaine Coffee, and sat outside next to Cow Dog, the food truck made out an old Winnebago.

photo of Plaine Coffee's patio grabbed from website

Tori enjoying ice cream

After that, we headed back to the rig.

More folks had arrived, so we took them their rally bags. At one rig, the wind caught their screen door at hit poor Tony in the face! Luckily he didn't see stars or anything, but he did have a little headache later on. No visible damage to his face, thank goodness.

For dinner, we decided to have hot dogs, cooked on the stove, because it was easy.

After dinner, we walked around and visited some more. The stars were very bright out here, as there was not too much light pollution. We watched a zodiacal light phenomenon appear in the western sky. Read about it, here.

Heartland friend Malcolm took this time-lapse picture.

It was nearing 10pm and getting colder, so we headed back to the rig. A fun day! 

Getting settled and waiting on guests

Monday, March 13th, 2017

Today, we were a bit slow moving, but eventually got up and got started prepping for the rally some, and cleaning the rig up in preparation for Tony's sister to come and visit. She was driving in from Terrell! Quite a drive, but she is young and can still do that sort of thing.

Mambo enjoying the view from the screened door.

Tony ran some errands, including a stop at the Chamber of Commerce to get the rally bags they had prepared, get the truck washed, and pick up a few groceries. I worked on Rally info including an updated agenda, our White Elephant Swap, Raffle and Auction lists, and Sponsor Lists.

We also visited with a lot of the folks already here, and greeted some as they arrived.

Us with the Lost Alaskan entrance sign

For dinner, we decided to cook some steaks we had thawed out. The weather was a bit on the cool side today, but finally started to get warmer toward the afternoon. (Still needed a hoodie though!)

Tony grillin' steaks

About 6:30pm, Tony's sister arrived! We had a good time visiting with her and getting her settled in.

About 9:30, Tori and I took a walk around the park in the dark, and saw the stars!

It was a good day.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Alpine bound

Sunday, March 11th, 2017

Today, we hit the road about 10AM, to head to Alpine. Here's a shot of the Midland RV Park entrance as we left. We thought the park was pretty nice considering others we saw along the way. This park's overnight area is not much to look at, but the fulltimer's area is nicer with grass and some trees. The hosts were very nice. We'd stay here again.

Entrance to Midland RV Park

We had a somewhat cloudy and easy drive down to Alpine. The sun came out about 30 miles from Alpine, and it was pretty sunny when we got there.

Seeing mountains on the horizon!

Setting up at Lost Alaskan RV Park! Look at that blue sky!

After we arrived, we had many of our Heartland friends come by and see us. Some of them had arrived a few days ago, so they could sight-see the area.

That evening, the temperature dropped cooler and we had to wear our sweatshirts to visit folks outside.

Getting a jump start on the rally week

Saturday, March 11, 2017

On Friday, we discussed the possibility of leaving on Saturday to head to Alpine, but maybe stopping half-way. That would be about Midland. We decided we'd see how we felt in the morning. We had spent last weekend and this week getting all the rally stuff together, so we felt we could get away at a decent time.

Saturday, we were up at a decent time, so we decided to leave. I called Midland RV Park and made reservations. We had a few hiccups before departing -- 1. Tony's air compressor  gauge/chuck was leaking air. We ended up removing the hose part that was leaking, and just using the chuck by itself. He also has a separate digital gauge, so we could still check how much air was in the tires.

2. The extender valve we had put on the spare under the rig would not take air. Tony had to lower the spare tire holder, disconnect the extender, and then fill the tire.

We finally headed out about 11:00am, about an hour later than we wanted, but we made good time.

We arrived at the Midland RV Park about 4:00pm.

In our spot, though it's hard to tell ours from theirs or the roads behind and in front!

It was actually a little toasty as we got set up. We even had to run the AC some. Not long after we were set up, we decided we were pretty hungry. So we got online and ordered a Domino's Pizza delivered, since we heard in the park office that they delivered to the sites in the park. Domino's has a neat little animated tracker to let you see what "stage" your pizza is in, and when it goes out for delivery. It was neat to watch the process.

The pizza arrived in about 45 minutes from ordering. We enjoyed our pizza and cheezy bread, then noticed the clouds were "exploding" out of the clear blue sky, and the wind really picked up. We were able to turn the AC off, because the temperature cooled as well. We had read about storms coming in about 8PM, some possibly severe, so we paid attention.

Clouds came in, and 24mph wind kicked up a lot of dust in this park!

The clouds became somewhat ominous!

A storm off to the east.

Luckily, the storms developed to the west and east of us, and we never got a direct "hit". We had some light rain, and small pea-sized hail for a bit, but nothing bad. By 10pm it was done with us, and moved on south and east. We hit the hay.

Inspection and interesting navigation

Wednesday, March 8th, 2017

Today  I packed up the rig for travel -- why so early for our trip to leave March 12?  Well, we failed to get the notice that our rig was needing it's registration tag, back in January. We realized it in February, when we went to the Sweetheart Rally.

So, to make sure we were legal, we had to get the trailer inspected first. So after school was out, we hitched up and headed the 5 miles into Cisco to get the inspection done. It took longer to get it paid for than the inspection took!

We parked on a side street from Precision Tire & Auto, and they walked over to us to do the inspection. However, once done, we had to go a few blocks into the city streets to figure out how to turn around. It was quite challenging as most of the roads are gravel, with no curb -- only a gully for drainage on either side of the road. We had to be careful of low-hanging trees, and making the turns without our 41.5' trailer going off the road. I jumped out at the intersections and one time to check tree limbs, so that we would not have any surprises.

We made it back to the main drag and got her home again, passing the inspection with no issues. Hopefully, this will make it easier to be ready to go when we leave this weekend!

(The next day, I went to the courthouse to get our registration tag, so we were good to go!)