Home Away From Home, Texas

Goodbye Arizona

Bless Pat, we pulled out before 8:00 this morning! As Jerry and I both agreed, it’s Austin. Let me explain. Last year at the end of our Texas visit we returned to Fredericksburg to visit the Enchanted Rock. The next day we headed for home with a planned stop in College Station at the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library. As we drove toward College Station I realized that we were going to be close to Austin. I had heard many good things about Austin so was thinking we probably needed to explore the town. As we got closer I realized that no, we were not going to be close to Austin but were going right through it. I asked Jerry if he wanted to stop and after a few seconds he said no and we both agreed that it was time to head home. We were like homing pigeons and we were ready to travel east. Apparently we felt the same way yesterday as we were discussing whether to leave for home today or tomorrow. Today! We may stop in Tuscaloosa to visit family but other than that we are on the way home!

As we pulled out of Benson I began to see signs of “Brush Fire Danger – Extreme” bringing to mind the fears I expressed earlier. It is so very dry in Arizona. Nearly two hours later as we entered New Mexico we saw signs warning of dust areas and saw places for pull offs. I had read about the dust storms but fortunately we didn’t have any trouble this morning.

I spent the first two hours trying to plot out our route and find possible places to stay. I used the Harvest Host directory and found a possibility for tomorrow night. The RV park I settled on in Van Horn, Texas didn’t open until 2:00 so couldn’t make a definite plan with them at that time. It’s a Passport park and at $14 a deal for full hookup.

As we continued to travel through New Mexico I was periodically getting fire alert warnings for each area we passed. At times I felt as though we were running from potential fires. Of course the warnings were for the next day but I couldn’t help but think that we left North Carolina hours ahead of a huge weather event for the East Coast and now we are leaving Arizona ahead of the fire threats. To hear that an area is dry and has the potential for fire and to see the area and realize how very dry it is, well, that’s two different things.

We took a short break at the Visitor’s Center at Anthony, Texas just across the New Mexico border and had a quick lunch. Jerry was feeling good so he suggested that we drive further than Van Horn so after we got back on the road I started looking for a place to spend the night. Between Van Horn and Odessa which was further than we wanted to drive there were not many options. I finally located a Walmart in Pecos and called to see if they allowed overnight parking for RV’s. Yes, they did so we headed on there. In the back of my mind I kept thinking about that hour we were going to lose.

About 100 miles into Texas we had to go through a Border Patrol inspection center. They just asked if anyone was in the back, then on to Pecos we went. Pecos had both a Flying J where we could fill up and a Walmart to overnight at. No problem. Right? Wrong! First, there was a lot of traffic and very long stop lights. It probably took us over five minutes to get off of I20. Then the Flying J was not easily accessible and the Garmin took us around Pecos. We had a nice little tour. Then back through Pecos to the Walmart. When I called they neglected to tell me that the parking lot was the size of a postage stamp and every available parking slot had been captured by cars. There was absolutely nowhere to park so back on the road we went. I began frantically looking for something but I20 doesn’t have much to offer. There was a Walmart in Odessa so I called them. Nope, they didn’t allow overnight parking. Our next hope was in Midland, eighty miles further. I called and they very nicely said sure. The 330 rule followed by many RVer’s is drive 330 miles or be off the road by 3:30. Boy, we broke that rule today. Jerry was feeling good so we decided to go on sure we’d be off the road before dark. Well, that didn’t work so well. There we were on I20 with trucks, work trucks, semi’s and a few cars flying by at 75+ mpg. Jerry competently drove and I prayed.

We pulled in the Walmart in Midland about 8:30 along with several other RVer’s and truckers and we were tired and hungry. I had dinner planned but Jerry saw a McDonald’s so we just walked over there and had dinner. When we got back to the RV Jerry pulled the steps in and we settled in for the night. I never heard a sound! Thank you to the Midland Walmart for being so kind and generous to some tired travelers.

Advertisements
Home Away From Home, Texas

George H.W. Bush Museum

img_3973
Up and out early this morning because we were on a mission! Go through Johnson City to stop at the Black Spur to see if they had a sun we could use at the river and then get to the George H.W. Bush Museum. We were saying goodbye to Fredericksburg. As we rode along I continued to be amazed at the number of wineries that such a small area has. Between Fredericksburg and Stonewall, a small town between Fredericksburg and Johnson City there are probably 20 wineries some of them right next door to each other. The ground must be perfect for growing grapes! By the way, Stonewall is the town where LBJ’s ranch is located. There are also numerous peach stands along the way although none were opened at this time of year.

As we traveled along I reminisced about our trip as our days were slowly coming to an end. We have seen such different terrain throughout the state and many animals that are not indigenous to North Carolina such as mule deer, jackrabbits, coyote, blue bird, road runner, bison, several different kinds of deer, sheep, and goats – Jerry saw an ostrich or emu in Fredericksburg. He couldn’t tell which it was but he knew it was tall!

As we rode along I suddenly realized that we were pretty close to Austin so we began the discussion of “do we want to stop in Austin”. Jerry didn’t want to but would if I wanted to. My feeling was I really didn’t want to but it seemed a shame to be that close and not go but we were getting to be sort of like homing pigeons – it was nearly time to head back to North Carolina. We might have been more prone to stop if it had been a nice sun shiny day but instead a cloudy, windy cool 51 degrees did not encourage sightseeing plus – we know we’re more national and state park people than city people and we were just getting a bit tired! We didn’t get just close to Austin though – we went right smack dab through it, traffic and all but everything moved smoothly. Next time Austin! As we left Austin we were on a toll highway but apparently they will bill us because there are no toll booths.

We arrived at the George H.W. Bush Library and Museum at 12:20 making good time. After a quick lunch in the motor home we made our way into the museum. With typical Texan politeness we were greeted by several people – after going through the metal detector of course. We paid our senior admission and then with perfect timing went in to watch a short introductory video and then we began our exploration of the museum. When we presented our tickets we were given the option of having an audio tour and we both accepted that. After that I rarely saw Jerry as we both just wandered on our own and saw what interested each of us.

img_3950The museum is amazing and shows a man and a woman of such character and compassion. I learned a lot about both President Bush and Mrs. Bush. They met at a dance and that was that for both of them. They later married when he was home on leave. Not knowing when he was going to be home they set a wedding date for December but he didn’t get home until Christmas Eve so the wedding invitation date was marked though and a January date was inked in!

As soon as President Bush graduated from high school he entered the military and trained as a pilot. He flew many successful missions but on one flight was hit by the Japanese and lost two of his men. He had to parachute out of the plane and was lost at seas in a raft for a short while. That incident certainly was a life changing event for the president.

The most important things to both of the Bushes were faith, family and country. Even after his one year term as president neither he nor his wife settled into an easy life. They both were and are very active volunteers always trying to help someone in need. Mrs. Bush’s Reading initiative has helped countless people through the years. She worked on this initiative when President Bush was vice-president under President Regan and continued it when she was First Lady. She wondered why she was saying the same things as First Lady that she said as the vice president’s wife but what she was saying was getting a lot more attention. She said it didn’t matter what she said as wife of the Vice President.

It seems that both President and Mrs. Bush have quite a sense of humor and love to laugh and smile. On the first night in the White House they invited their family in to spend the night!

The Day the Wall Came Down
The Day the Wall Came Down
After viewing most of the museum – I could have stayed a lot longer but knew we needed to get on the road – I wandered around the grounds a bit. There is a beautiful sculpture called “The Day the Wall Came Down”, a monument to freedom referencing the Berlin Wall. The sculptor Veryl Goodnight said he used horses to represent the freedom of the human spirit. The graffiti painted on the rubble beneath the horses was replicated by the Mr. Goodnight from actual graffiti painted on the Berlin Wall. President Bush requested that the names of 15 people who were killed at the Wall be written on the “Dove of Peace” to represent the over 900 people who were killed trying to escape to the West. I also visited the place where the Bushes will be buried and where their young daughter Robin is now buried. I was also able to view President Bush’s engraved words on the building “Let future generations understand the burden and blessings of freedom. Let tem say we stood where duty required us to stand”.

Words of Wisdom
Words of Wisdom

We left College Station about 4:30 headed on down the road hopefully driving until about 5:30 and stopping at a Walmart. Instead we hit Houston during the 5:00 traffic and a few days before the Super Bowl plus missed a turn so that plan went out of the window. And then the GPS lost the signal!

We spent the night in the Walmart parking lot in Baymont, Texas a suburb on Houston – I think. We were pretty lost last night in a lot of traffic and unknown to me running low on gas. Jerry hastily pulled into a Spur station and filled up with gas. While he was doing that I was trying to figure out how to get to the Flying J which had been our intended target for gas and spending the night there. I really was not looking forward to spending the night at a truck stop as I hear it’s pretty loud plus the spaces need to be used by the truckers rather than RVers. As I searched I realized we were only about a mile and half from a Walmart that allowed overnight parking and it was on the way to I-10 where we needed to be.

We headed to that way and were able to stay and parked in the lot along with another Class A and a Fifth Wheel. Although we realized it was ok to park there Jerry still went in and asked permission. The manager said it was fine as long as we pulled out of the way. While he was gone I realized that we could pull over to the side curbing and open up the bedroom slide for the night so when he got back that’s what we did. We discussed trying to find somewhere within walking distance to eat but decided to warm up the hamburgers instead. As soon as we finished with dinner I got ready for bed, got my iPad and kindle and got in the bed. Trucks and cars kept loudly zooming by and since this was a 24 hour Walmart I was afraid that we’d have a night of that but at 10:00 everything got quiet and it stayed that way all night.

Alabama, Home Away From Home

Another Walmart Night

I woke up to the sound of rain pitter pattering on the roof. That is such a relaxing sound and I would have love to stay in bed but I was awake and knew we needed to be on the road soon. Since our water situation was iffy we did the best we could getting dressed and using bottled water. We pulled out of the Walmart in Camden at 8:10 headed to Abbbeville, 845 miles away.

Hopefully we can drive about half way today and will have a fairly easy drive tomorrow, then a day of rest. We stopped at 10:15 in Appling, Ga at a rest stop. When we pulled in Jerry noticed that they had an RV dump. We finally located it and were able to empty the black tank of all the fresh water Jerry added yesterday. We were also able to fill the fresh water tank so we’ll have showers soon! Jerry learned which switches work what so hopefully we don’t have that problem again. Unfortunately the fresh water tank is still reading 1/3 full but we’re pretty sure that’s an incorrect reading. Guess we’ll find out later.

Although we had a half tank of gas we stopped in Greensboro, Ga and filled up again as the next Flying J was over 200 miles away. While Jerry pumped gas I prepared sandwiches for lunch so we could eat on the road. We had spent nearly an hour at the Rest Stop emptying and filling tanks so we wanted to get back on the road quickly.

We continued to drive with another gas stop in Montgomery, Alabama and then surprise, I drove. It was a little nerve wracking but the only way I’m going to get better is to drive. Occasionally I got a little close to the right side of the highway and Jerry would call out, “Go left” and I’d move over a little – if I could.

We were trying to decide which Walmart to select for the night. Due to the time change the one that we would probably have chosen had us stopping at 3:30. What do you do in a Walmart parking lot from 3:30 on? We finally decided on one in Saraland, Alabama even though it was quite a distance from where we were. Actually that was probably not a wise choice as it was around 6:00 and dark when we got there. Some nights it may be necessary to drive that late but it wasn’t tonight. Another lesson learned. Even if it means stopping earlier than planned we’ll do it next time rather than arrive in the dark.

We arrived at the Saraland Walmart at 7:06 our time which meant we were on the road almost 11 hours – not a good idea although it did work out ok. We easily found Walmart and got parked very quickly. We decided that we would turn on the generator and then the hot water heater while we would try to find someplace to eat within walking distance. Although according to Waze there was a Ruby Tuesday .01 miles away we couldn’t see it so we ended up going in the Walmart. They had a MacDonald’s but we opted for the deli and got some fried chicken and a salad. That store was one of the busiest Walmarts I’ve ever been in and someone told us that it was because it was the 3rd of the month and many people got paid on that day. The parking lot was full and cars were constantly whizzing by. I was afraid it would be a noisy night.

We went on back to the RV, ate dinner and were able to watch a little RV with the antenna. About 9:30 I fell asleep and never heard Jerry come to bed. If it was a noisy night I surely never heard anything and slept like a baby. I woke up about 5:15 but went back to sleep. Since we didn’t have far to go today, 250+ miles we didn’t rush but still pulled out at 8:18.

Florida, Home Away From Home

Our Trip to Disney

Well, we got the car on the dolly!  It wasn’t as difficult as we imagined but it was not easy.  I got down on the ground and helped with attaching everything but I just didn’t have the strength to tighten the straps securely. I couldn’t even do it by standing on the ratchet but Jerry finally got it tight enough.

He had a doctor’s appointment Tuesday morning so although I stayed busy trying to get everything done before departure I still was not ready when he got home.  I put pork chops, potatoes, cheese, etc. in the crock pot so we’d have a good dinner when we got to a stopping place, probably somewhere at a Walmart in Georgia.  We finally got on the road about 11:00 and Jerry had no trouble driving.  Occasionally I offered to drive but he said he was fine.  I had bought the Walmart app from AllStays and it is worth the money.  When Jerry began to get tired I began to look for viable places to stay.  We finally stopped at a Walmart in Georgia and although there was already another RV in the parking lot we went in and asked permission to stay.  With that granted we did a bit of shopping getting some broccoli to go along with the pork chops.

The next morning we were on our way to Disney.  Driving a motor home south through Jacksonville, Florida is very intimidating and quite scary.  I could never have done it!  In fact I found that a perfect time to read!

We made it to Fort Wilderness with no problem and check in was so easy.  You don’t even have to get out of our rig.  Shortly after entering the park there is an “unhitching” area so we stopped, took the car off of the dolly and  then headed to our site.   Initially we missed the turn into our section and ended up circling the entire park but it kind of gave us a layout of the land.  (I would suggest that an added perk would be having someone direct you to your site.)  Getting backed into the site proved to be too much for Jerry but with the help of two gentlemen and my directions he finally got it backed in.  Unfortunately I think it set his healing back a few days.

The Beginning!  Both sets of grandparents with Emma, Eli and Olivia.
The Beginning! Both sets of grandparents with Emma, Eli and Olivia.
Disney was …  fun, exhausting, and HOT, HOT, HOT.  We picked up our son David, his wife Jane and the three children, Emma, Eli and Olivia on Thursday and had a whirlwind four days of seeing and doing all we could.  We returned to the coach each night hot and sweaty and too tired to even eat dinner.  How many people go to Disney and lose weight?  I did!  The heat index on Saturday was 101!  Since our return home I’ve often made the statement that if I ever return to Disney (and I will) it will not be in September.  Jerry finally told me that I was making an untrue statement.  With a puzzled look on my face I asked him what in the world he was talking about.  He told me if any of the grands asked us to go again in September I’d be packing my clothes – and he’s right but I’m hoping they choose a cooler month!

Since David and his family were not staying at Disney we went to their hotel each morning and picked them up and then took them back each evening.  Why did no one think of Uber?  Finally on Saturday night at my suggestion we gave them our car and we rode the bus back to the campground.  Once we got back to the drop off site we had no idea what to do.  Since we had not anticipated doing that we had not read the directions about how to proceed and of course they were in the car!  We ended up walking back to the coach and it was nearly a mile but it was a good walk.

Sunday morning we took the boat over to the Magic Kingdom and by the time David and family had arrived we had already done three things!

Two of our little pirates at the Magic Kingdom
Two of our little pirates at the Magic Kingdom
Sunday night we all stayed for the Halloween party.  Lines to the rides were shorter and we quickly rode anything we wanted to.  Unfortunately a lot of the rides and movies were closed.  The parade, though short, was quite good and we eagerly awaited the highlight of the evening – the fireworks scheduled to begin at 10:15.  Well just before then God displayed His fireworks along with a lot of heavy rain.  Needless to say the fireworks were eventually canceled, at least I guess they were.  We left around 11:15 and it was still raining so I guess it’s safe to say there were no fireworks that night.

We finally got back to the park around midnight with no plans for an early start on Monday!

Home Away From Home, Michigan

Official Wally Dockers!

We’ve done it! We’ve have spent the night in a Walmart parking lot so we are now officially Wally Dockers! I must say it wasn’t bad at all. When we arrived at the local Walmart in Belle, West Virginia there were two more RV’s and then several semis came in. We did learn though that you should have more gas in your tank. When we got ready to leave the next morning Jerry realized that we had less than 1/8 of a tank in the motor home, less than we’ve ever had. After morning coffee Jerry made another trip into Walmart to get some sweetener. He really didn’t pack very well for this trip. All in all, over-nighting at Walmart makes all the sense in the world. Why spend $25-$40 for a site arriving late in the evening and leaving early the next morning? Plus, we always need something from Walmart so purchases are ensured. I’m sure we’ll be taking advantage of that courtesy in the future.

Yesterday was a bright sun shiny day but today the weather is cloudy and drizzling. If the road wasn’t so bumpy it would be excellent cross stitching but it’s almost impossible to type on this highway. Lots of duplicate letters as I try to type. We’ve got a long way to go today. 550 miles according to Jerry’s GPS and 635 according to mine. I hope we don’t have to bump all the way there. Really West Virginia, we’re helping pay for these highways. Can’t you do better?

Traveling on into Ohio and highways improved but the GPS took us through a lot of small one stoplight towns. Of course we got every light. At times we felt that we were in a convoy as traffic was so lined up – no one was passing the big trucks nor us! Just before reaching the Michigan line we ran into a lot of road construction and Jerry did a terrific job. I know he must have been stressed as there were barriers along both sides of the highway and pretty heavy traffic. We wanted to stop for lunch but the only rest stop was closed so we had no choice but to continue. Finally we entered Michigan and found a Pilot with a MacDonald’s.

Jerry topped off the gas at $2.20 and then the interesting part began. We got away from the gas pump but then got hemmed in and couldn’t move forward or backward. Finally a guy driving another RV came out and moved his so we could get around. That is one of the problems with driving a gas rig. Most stations that accommodate large rigs do so in the diesel section, not the gas so it makes for interesting adventures. We have to be very careful when selecting a station. Usually we try to go to Pilot or Flying J although a Loves will work but even those are not always friendly to a gas coach.

We ate a quick lunch and then got back on the highway only to discover a Welcome to Michigan Center about two miles further down. We stopped for a quick 15 minutes, got some material and then started driving again. Realizing we were a little over 200 miles always from Mears I called the campground to tell them that we would be late arriving. They assured me that someone would be there until 11:00 so unless it was going to be after that we were good. I surely do hope we’re there before 11!

The rest of the drive was pretty uneventful. I listened to an audio book and cross stitched but I later realized that as I was stitching I was not looking around thus missing a lot of the country side. We ran into a lot of construction in every state but only one detour and that one only added about ten minutes.

Getting to the campground was not as easy as we had hoped. It was after 7:30 and we were riding around a typical beach town and we were lost. We first went to the Silver Lake State Park knowing that wasn’t where we were supposed to be but hoping they could give us some directions. They couldn’t so we continued to fumble around. We finally reached a stopping point and I tried to call the campground but the call kept dropping. We found out later that cell coverage is nearly non-existent here. I got out of the RV and tried to get out from under the trees hoping I could get a better signal but no such luck however a gentleman did stop and ask if he could help. He gave us pretty good directions. We went through the small town of Mears, around the roundabout and then hark – we saw the campground only to realize that we were at Silver Creek RV and not Silver Lake. Although Silver Creek looked very nice they were not too nice in the office. We had to ride through the entire campground to get out!

We finally found Silver Lake just down the road and they couldn’t have been nicer. We had reservations for water/electric but I asked about a full hookup. They only had it for two nights and then we’d have to move for the third night but we elected to do that. A hot shower in MY shower sounded like a grand idea! There is no cable nor Internet here and I feel a bit out of the loop. Helen Jo called and tried to give me the doctor’s report on Mom but the reception was so bad that she finally just texted me.

By this time it was after 9:00 so we rode into Mears and got a sandwich at Sand Castle restaurant. I asked the waitress, Ash about cell coverage and she’d never heard of US Cellular and said Verizon only worked if you stood in the middle of the street. She very kindly offered to let me use her phone to call Helen Jo – we did leave her a nice tip for her kindness. It was still so light outside so we asked her about it. Although my phone said it was 9:30, Jerry’s said it was 8:30 so we were a bit confused because it was still light. She said it was really 9:30 and it didn’t get dark in that part of Michigan until nearly 10:00. Because we are just across the lake from Wisconsin Jerry’s phone was picking up Wisconsin time. Interesting!

Back to the rig. Jerry is trying with great difficulty to talk with Dish to set up the TV but alas the cell phone is breaking up so…
All in all a long day but praise God for safe travel! Thank you Jesus!

Home Away From Home, West Virginia

Murphy’s Law

One day we’re going to start on a trip with no difficulties, no snags, and no delays. Now, I don’t know when that will be but it surely wasn’t today. As I stated earlier we had planned to leave early Wednesday morning but the bike problem delayed that until at least 10:30. I got up early and fortunately Jerry slept in – he’ll need it later today! After coffee, paying bills and waking up I rode my 6 miles – wow it was so hot! It’ll be interesting to find out what the heat index was for today. After I cooled off I got busy in the kitchen. I made two meat loafs, mixed the spaghetti sauce in the crockpot which will cook as we travel and made some House Seasoning to be used later. I continued to put things in the RV, .e. frozen food, refrigerated foods, etc. Burt called and had been able to true the rim so Jerry went down and picked up his bike. After returning home he realized that since he had altered the tow dolly to accommodate the bikes the safety chains were too short so he had to go to Lowe’s for extensions. When he got back we finally got the bikes on the rack and the tow dolly hitched only to realize that since we were leaving so late we would probably end up boondocking somewhere tonight so that meant we had to add water to the fresh water tank. Naturally the hoses wouldn’t reach so we had to back up the coach which already had the two dolly connected. All of this was done is 90 degree plus heat and high humidity. I dried my hair three times!

We finally left at 12:33 only to realize that Jerry didn’t bring any jeans so we circled the Briary, stopped in front of the house and I ran in and got him a couple of pairs. It was a good thing I did go back in because the alarm was beeping. I don’t know what is wrong with it but it keeps intermittently beeping and it hasn’t even been set. I turned it off and we started out again.

As we neared Mallards (about five miles out of Kinston) we saw that gas was $1.97 so we pulled in and Jerry filled up while I went to the fruit stand. I got some fresh tomatoes, some baking potatoes for tomorrow’s dinner and a cantaloupe since we never got around to making our sausage balls. We finally left Mallards at 1:08 on our way to – oh, where are we going tonight? Certainly not Piketon, Ohio where we had intended to go. Should be interesting.

Before we left we kissed for luck and then prayed for safe travel for us and safety for all of our children and grands.

The rest of the day was pretty uneventful. We just traveled along. I intermittently spent time on the iPad trying to figure out how far we could go and where we might stay. Our original destination was the Chillicoathe, Ohio area and we knew we couldn’t make it that far.

We entered West Virginia and the dratted toll booths. Wide loads should go in the far right lane but Jerry didn’t on the first one and I heard a scrape (later looked for a scratch or worse but didn’t see anything). We went through three toll booths at $3.25 each. You would think that toll roads would be in better condition but that was not the case today. For the most part it was a bumpy ride!

I finally located a Walmart in Quincy (Belle), WVA and we decided that we would try boondocking for the night! Wow! As we pulled in we saw two other RV’s parked there so we assumed it would be OK to park there. As soon as we were parked Jerry went to the store to check in with the manager who said it was fine to park there, the only rule being leave no trash.

Using the inverter I cooked the noodles to go with the spaghetti sauce that had been cooking in the crock pot and fixed a pear salad. We didn’t pull out any slides although we noticed that one coach had three of theirs pulled out. No one had any jacks down. Since there were no rules regarding generator use Jerry turned ours on and the coach started cooling down immediately. It’s nearly as hot in West Virginia as it is in North Carolina and after all, we are in a tin can. It doesn’t take long for things to start warming up!

Although a bit cramped we pulled out the table and had our dinner. As soon as I took a bite of the pear salad I realized that it was abnormally sweet. I didn’t say anything waiting for Jerry to remark. He did. Reading the can label we realized that I had bought cinnamon flavored pears. They weren’t terrible but Jerry did ask me how may cans I bought. Fortunately, only one!

After dinner we walked over to the store to get a manual can opener and then headed back to the coach. We were both pretty tired. By this time it was after 9:00 so we both pretty much collapsed. Jerry grabbed his pillow and headed for the sofa because we were both pretty sure he would be snoring loudly tonight. If he did I never heard it. Surprisingly I slept well only awaking a couple of times. Fatigue can do that to you! I guess we are officially Wally Dockers now!