Tuesday, April 24, 2007

4/20/07 We See Where We "Live"

Today we went to Livingston, Texas to see where we "live". We arrived at Escapees Headquarters around 9 am, an hour early for the tour we wanted to take.

We hung around in the parking lot until the appointed time and then joined about a dozen other Escapees to hear all about this RV'ers organization that we belong to.

First let me explain what Escapee's is all about. (The following is taken from the Escapees web site.)

Joe and Kay Peterson had been full-timing for eight years before they started the Escapees RV Club on July 4, 1978. It was started through Kay’s column in Woodall’s Trailer Travel magazine. She asked the question that if a club was started to help people enjoy RVing, would anyone be interested in joining? She received a couple dozen responses and began to think big: One day there might be one or two hundred people in the club! Today there are over 34,000 member-families. (There are probably more than this but this was the latest number I could get off the web site.)

SKP was originally used as an abbreviation of Escapees. (Say S-K-P fast and it sounds like Escapees.) It has become a commonly used nickname. Escapees (SKPs) are Special Kinds of People who are always ready to help each other, but S-K-P can more accurately be used to designate the three distinct concepts on which the club is built.

S - Stands for Support
One important benefit of Escapees is the support members get from each other as they travel. Because some Escapees travel long distances from their home base and families, and because they may be on the road for many months at a time, it is important to be part of an extended family of travelers. Support also includes the many benefits and optional services that the Escapees Club provides.

K - Stands for Knowledge
Members often say that the money-saving tips they get from Escapees magazine alone more than pay their annual dues. Learning is also the keynote of the semiannual Escapades that take place each spring and fall. Going to an Escapade is like attending a concentrated five-day college course on RVing.

P - Stands for Parking
One thing that makes the Escapees RV Club different from other RV clubs is that it offers members places to park. In addition to home-base benefits for those who join an SKP Co-Op or Rainbow Park, all Escapees members may use short-term parking at Escapees parks. This includes Rainbow's End campground, located at the international headquarters in Livingston, Texas. Members also have overnight parking opportunities with other Escapees members across the country.

Escapees also has a state of the art mail forwarding service. We have all of our mail now sent to our own personal address here at the Headquarters. We now officially "live" on Rainbow Drive. Has a nice ring to it doesn't it?

As stated earlier, we joined about a dozen others for the tour. I had a card giving the names of our tour guides but darn if I can find it now. Take my word for it, they knew all the answers to the questions and were most informative.

Our tour guides.

After a talk about how Escapees started it was time to go to the mail center. This was just amazing!

Each green folder is someones "home".

This office processes between 20 and 25 THOUSAND pieces of mail every day! When we are ready for a mail delivery we'll call or email the office and tell them where we are and when to send it. If we are to be stationery for a period of time then we'll set up an automatic delivery of every two weeks.

This young lady has her hand on our mailbox.

The tour was very interesting and we're glad we took it.

You may have noticed that sometimes our 5th wheel is referred to as our "house on wheels". Here's something that truly reflects that term.

After finishing up at Escapee's Headquarters we went into the city of Livingston to get our truck and rig registered and to get driver's licenses. This was a wasted trip as I didn't have my original Social Security Card with me. You can't be processed for a license without it and you can't get a driver's license without FIRST registering a vehicle. What does a 16 year old do? So we'll have to come back again and do this. It's not like we don't have the time!

Back at the hotel a call was put into the body shop to try to get a time line for picking up the rig. So far they have one side taped. We have big and swirling graphics on the each side of the 5th wheel and they have to be painstakingly taped so as not to get sanded or painted. Time consuming to say the least. Of course they are closed for the weekend so now we are looking at Monday for finishing up the taping, Tuesday for sanding and Wednesday for painting. Hopefully we can pick it up Wednesday or Thursday at the latest we are told.

We are so tired of looking at these four walls! We have to get out of here. We decided to go to Houston for the weekend. We'll get a hotel room, at least it will be different four walls to look at, and we'll see what Houston has to offer.

Around 9pm I remembered that our friend Jackie had called us a week or so before to let me know she had heard on the radio that Jimmy Buffett was going to be in town. Hmmmm....I wonder what EBAY has to offer in the way of tickets at this late date.

I was surprised to find several auctions that had great seats. I watched one pair that was to auction off at just a little after 11pm. I lost that one by $12.50. The next auction that I was interested in wasn't going off until one in the morning. Great seats, 39 rows from the stage on the floor. These tickets were originally sold for $126.00 each and the starting bid for the pair was $100.00. To pass the time I played Scrabble and Spider Solitaire trying desperately to stay awake. I waited until the last 30 seconds to put in the bid and I was very glad to find out that no one was bidding against me. I won the auction!

Friday, April 20, 2007

4/19/07 Perfect Day for a Ride

Woke this morning to clear skies so we decided to take a long ride today and see the countryside.
We had no particular destination in mind so we just drove. We took notice right away once we got out in the country of the wildflowers that grow in abundance along the Texas roadways. (Remember, you can double click on the pics to enlarge them)

These flowers went on for as far as we drove.

Here are some closeups of some of the wild flowers we saw.

We passed through a rather large ranch in our travels. We could tell because the same fence, painted the same color, was on both sides of the road. We slowed and watched the long horn steer graze, the mama cows keep an eye on their young calves and birds that seem to hang out with the livestock. This ranch seemed to go on forever and we couldn't even take a guess at how many acres this family owns. A lot, definitely a lot!

When we found ourselves back at the hotel it was once again that dreaded time of day, what and where to eat for dinner. Neither one of us had a taste for anything and we didn't feel like doing the restaurant thing so we ran over to Walmart and checked out the frozen food section for something we could throw in the microwave. Mama Callendar's pot pies! Works for us!

When we got back "home" after our trip to Walmart I called the body shop to see if the rig would be ready for pickup tomorrow. The news wasn't good. They just started the taping of the graphics! The body shop owner (Jeff) had to call the insurance this morning to find out if it was approved or not. It seems as though when the adjuster was there at the beginning of the week he had faxed his findings to the insurance agent and the agent just sat on it and here I thought I had gotten the message across that this was to be a priority job. The agent had faxed a copy of the report to the body shop on Tuesday but in bold capital letters was THIS IS NOT AN AUTHORIZATION printed on it. Jeff figured he would be getting a call from the agent giving a verbal ok by Wednesday at the latest. When he didn't he made his first order of business to call the agent on Thursday morning to find out what was going on. The agent told him that yes it was approved but that he hadn't talked with us yet to see if we wanted to go ahead with the job. W H A T????? Jeff assured him that we did and after some slight pressure from Jeff he finally said to go ahead and start the job. Here we are thinking we'll be picking up the rig on Friday and its just now getting started. Oh no, this is not good!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

4/18/07 Short Message Today

I entitled this Short Message Today because there really isn't anything to tell you. It was overcast all day, windy and nothing to do.

We didn't even venture out until about 3:30 when we had to go to the local mall to get Bob a new belt. While there we picked up shirts and two pairs of slacks too.

We had dinner at Logan's Roadhouse. You all know the kind of place, peanut shells all over the floor, your choice of burgers, chicken dishes, deep fried onions etc. etc. etc. Our meal was good as far as that kind of restaurant goes but I couldn't help but to compare it to last nights meal and that just isn't a fair comparison.

So it was back to the room to see if Sanjia (sp?) gets kicked off Idol tonite. We haven't been following Idol but you can't get away from it entirely so along with the rest of the country we're hoping he goes.

So there it is, we want out of here so bad we can't stand it.

I guess this shows we were meant for this lifestyle, we want to GO!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

4/17/07 The Ball Is Rolling

First call this morning was to the body shop to see if the insurance adjuster ever made it. The lady who answered the phone said that yes he had and he was still there when she went home. That was probably why we didn't get the phone call yesterday. Regardless, the claim has been approved and we are on a roll!

Bob and I went to the rig this morning because I remembered I had five pounds of potatoes under the sink and I knew they wouldn't last too much longer without starting to rot since the trailer is all closed up and no air is circulating. We gave them to a fellow in the body shop to take home. He said his family were "big tater eaters" so at least they won't go to waste.

The fellow at the body shop desk said that they hoped to have us on the road by Friday. There's no guarantee that will happen but they are going to do their best. As soon as a rig that was in the booth yesterday was done they were going to put ours in their and start taping everything that had to be covered. I really don't think they'll finish by then, I think we'll get our home back on Monday,,,,,but I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

Next thing we had to do was go back to where we had the truck washed and waxed the day before. We needed more of an invoice for the job to forward to the insurance company rather than a receipt. That was quickly taken care of.

We went back to the hotel for awhile because there is nothing to do around here. I read and Bob plotted our route on the computer.

Once again the chore of picking a place to eat dinner was upon us. Bob had checked things out on the computer and found a place in Beaumont. We read the online menu and it sounded good so off we went. It was on 11th Street and we went from one end to the other and couldn't find it. I went into a local business for help and learned that the restaurant had changed hands and names, and the nice man told me where we should be. So from Hoffbrau to Rocky's Roadhouse we go.

Our first impression was, "Oh good, look how many cars/trucks are here, it must be good". Our second impression was, "Oh god, its a biker bar!" That was the first thing we thought when we got inside and saw a women with a Harley Biker Babe t-shirt on over her ripped jeans with her studded belt and tattoos are on her arm and here I stood with my pretty pink blouse on, nails done and every hair in place. Quite a contrast.

So we are led to our table on the patio and were pleasantly surprised to find people in business attire and families with small children. Second impressions can be so deceiving.

Well, let me tell you, we had one of the BEST meals we ever had! Everything was perfect, could not have been better in any way. We took the time to talk to the young chef when we left to tell him what a great meal we had. The smile on his face spoke volumes. I'm thinking not many of the restaurant patrons actually stop to thank him but rather tell the waitress what a good meal it was when she asked if everything was ok. It was so worth our few extra minutes to give credit where credit was due.

After dinner it was back to our room. The rest of the evening brought a few hours of computer time for Bob and tv and my book for me.

We so want to be on the road again.

4/16/07 Truck Gets Detailed

Today Bob took our truck to be washed and waxed at the insistence of Pittman Wholesale Flowers. This is the company that owns the truck with the mechanical failures that caused our delay in our travels. It wasn't something we would have done, we would have just taken it through the car wash but they insisted it get hand waxed. They paid for it so who are we to complain.

While Bob was waiting for the washing/waxing to be completed he sat in the waiting area and talked with a lady well into her 80's who was at one time a fulltimer along with her husband. She told Bob of all the great experiences they had while on the road. The waiting time went fast for him since he had this nice lady telling her stories and it was something they had in common. I think Bob is very glad the company insisted on that wash/wax as he thoroughly enjoyed talking with her.

I spent this time trying to find out if the insurance adjuster was in fact scheduled to go to the body shop where our rig is. I was assured he had been contacted and accepted the job and was scheduled to go check out our rig so this job can be started. I then called the body shop to ask to them to call us when he showed up so that we know the process is at least underway.

We spent the afternoon on the phone with various insurance companies talking about coverage as fulltimers. We are looking for coverage like "homeowners" insurance. Our rig and tow truck are fully insured now but we don't have coverage for say, someone getting hurt if they fall down our rig steps. That will be fixed by tomorrow! It was easy to do it here in the hotel as we had the insurance companies fax their quotes to the hotel and the desk clerk called us each time a new one arrived. Now we have to sit down and compare them line by line. They are all pretty much in the same ballpark as far as cost is concerned therefore the line by line scrutiny is vital to get the most bang for our buck. Fulltimers insurance will set us back about $800.00 for a years worth of coverage. It will be money well spent for the piece of mind. Now we just need someone to fall down our steps and break a leg so that we didn't spend the money for nothing.

Dinner time was soon upon us and the major chore of deciding where to eat was at hand. I had seen a restaurant when we were down in the Beaumont area that I thought would be good so that's where we headed. Dinner at the Cattle Company. Sounds like a good place to get a steak.
The place was decorated much like we thought it would be with long horn steer mounted on the walls and the ever present cowboy paraphernalia strategically placed.

We were seated next to a large table with about 10 people seated at it. That was the best thing that could have happened. There was one lady who was telling stories about her trip to Jerusalem and she was a riot! We tried very hard not to laugh out loud as we didn't want them to think we were eavesdropping but she was just so darn funny we couldn't help it. Traveling with her would never be a dull moment. I took the time to thank her for dinnertime entertainment and she told me where and when they would be eating out again if we wanted to join them. You just meet the nicest people on the road.

A quick stop at the Hundred Dollar Store on the way home (surprise, surprise, we got out with a bill of only seven and change) and we settled in the for the night.

Oh yeah, no call from the body shop today. Major bummer!

Monday, April 16, 2007

4/15/07 The Storms Are Gone

We woke this morning to sunny skies and diminished winds. Diminished,,,,not gone.

We took our turns on the computer for awhile, we watched TV and around 2:30 Bob said, "Let's go for a ride, I can't sit here anymore." I knew how he felt so we were out the door in minutes.

We got to the end of the driveway, looked both ways, at each other and decided,,,,left. So left we went. We drove for about an hour and passed through some little towns. I mean little! Some not even having the required "four corners" to make it an official town in my eyes.

We did pass some ranches, some little businesses like "Granny's Little Produce Stand" and a church that had a special message on its lawn sign. You know the one, it gives info like the pastor's name, time of services and the such. Well this particular sign let its parishioners know that there is no excuse for not having cash or a check when the collection plate is passed. No sir, this church advertised that they have an ATM machine inside! Oh, the sights we see!

As we came back into Lumberton the big decision had to be made. Where to eat dinner! Neither one of us really had a "taste" for anything in particular so we ended up in Pizza Hut for dinner. We were the only ones there and we were thinking it was a good thing since they were evidently training a whole new staff. Our poor little waitress was just so frazzled, so afraid she was going to make a mistake. She even came back to ask if the green peppers I ordered for my personal pan pizza were to be put ON the pizza or served on the side. We were going to eat in the restaurant but it was so cold in there we couldn't stand it and changed our order to take out.

Back at our hotel we did nothing more than eat our pizzas, watch TV and play on the computer.

Bob did get into an online Texas Hold Em' tournament and ended up 213th out of 1676 players. Pretty good I think!

So that was another day in the life of these stranded, hotel bound RV'ers.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

4/14/07 Hotel Room Bound

A cold front came through last night with lots of rain and the wind kicked up to 30 mph and stayed there. It was supposed to rain all day here but by mid morning we were up to partly cloudy. The strong wind makes it very uncomfortable to be outside so we stayed in our hotel room all day leaving only to get dinner.

We watched TV, I had never seen Citizen Kane with Orson Wells before and it was very good. I can see why it is considered a classic. We took turns on the computer and read.

We were wishing we had something here to eat so that we didn't have to go out at all but that wasn't the case. We had dinner at a mom and pop restaurant called The Red Onion. It was down home buffet with things like chicken and dumplings, fried catfish, sirloin tips in gravy, hush puppies and boudain balls being some of the foods offered.

Hmmmm....boudain balls. I had heard a few days ago what a boudain ball was made of but had forgotten. I saw them listed on a menu but didn't actually see any. When I saw these "things" on the buffet line I asked the lady next to me if she knew what they were. She looked at me like I had two heads. She said in disbelief, "Why honey, those are boudain balls." I asked what was in them and she looked at me like I had just sprouted a third head! She said to me, "Honey, you aren't from around here are you?" When I told her no she just smiled and proceeded to tell me what they were made of. Its sausage and rice shaped into a ball, dipped in batter and then deep fried. YUCK! Bob had one and seemed to enjoy it but then Bob eats a lot of strange things as far as I'm concerned. I was adventurous enough to have a hush puppy and even then I thought of hush puppies and it made me think of suede tie shoes!

So its been a long day, tiring day of doing nothing.

We're hoping for better weather tomorrow.

Friday, April 13, 2007

4/13/07 Bored to Death!

We are bored. There is NOTHING to do around here. Nothing, Nada, zip, zero, zilch, NOTHING!

We started our morning on the phone. Calls made to the wholesale flower company to find out if they forwarded the paperwork to their insurance agent, then to the insurance agent to make sure he got them and where did they stand on his list priorities. The agent we needed to speak to was in a meeting, of course, and we had to wait for his return call. His assistant did assure me that they received the fax and that she would have him call us as soon as he was available. We went on with our day.

First stop today was at the body shop where our rig is. We needed to get a few things out of it and Bob wanted to put a locking chock between the wheels so that no one can hook up and drive off with it. In our haste yesterday to fill out paperwork, pack things we needed, making sure all the compartment doors were locked, well we drove off without taking care of that precaution. Bob thought it about last night and it was on his mind all night long.

After that we went for a ride for the lack of anything else to do. We passed a hair salon that had been recommended to me to get a haircut. We stopped and they were able to take me right away. It's an ok haircut, nothing to write home about, I've had better. I hate this part about full timing. Oh well, it'll grow again.

We rode around a bit more and decided to head back to the hotel for awhile.

The insurance agent finally called back and it was obvious he was not an RV'er or even a camper! He just didn't have a clue. I went through the whole episode with him step by step and finally made him understand that we LIVE in the 5th wheel, that it is HOME, just not a weekend getaway tent on wheels. He said he would have to make arrangements for an adjuster to go see it before they would approve anything. I was surprised since it was less than $5,000. I stressed to him that we really wanted this inspection to take place on Monday if at all possible. I think that will happen now that he understands this is HOME to us. Keep your fingers crossed.

Bob has been craving a sub for dinner and we found out our only picks were Subway or Quiznos. We don't care for either one of them. We haven't seen any sub/steak shops here in Texas. I'm surprised by that. What we wouldn't do for Capriotti subs right now!

He did get his sub,,,,kinda, sorta. We went to the store and bought several different lunch meats, rolls, sub oil, lettuce, tomatoes, cheese and onion and made our own. Capriotti's they ain't.

We spent the evening watching TV and checking the weather. We're supposed to get bad storms tonite with hail. One more thing to worry about with the 5th wheel. tornadoes and hail dents! Will it never end? I think we'll be glad to get out of Texas!

That's it for today.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

4/12/07 What a Difference a Day Makes!

Well, if all had gone according to plan we would be in a state park outside of Austin right now as I type this. Instead, we're in Lumberton in a hotel! Yep, you read that right, a hotel! And we'll be here for the next nine days! Not what we had planned to say the least.

We took our rig to the dealership this morning to get it its bath like we had planned to do. As I said earlier, Bob had his doubts about this outfit getting the oil off the 5th wheel. He was right. It didn't budge! Well, that's not quite true. Just before we were pulling out they tried some stuff on it and the oil disappeared. We thought great, its coming off! We stood there talking with the guys from the dealership about leaving it there for the entire day while they used this magic stuff all over the rig. We talked about 5 - 7 minutes and when we looked back at it the spots were back. Just a temporary fix.

We went back into the office and Bill, from the dealership, called the company who owned the truck that caused all this. He told them it wasn't coming off and that we needed to go to a body shop, have it sanded, repainted and new clear-coat put on. I then got on the phone and told them that we were leaving the area today and it would be a week or so before we stayed put for any length of time, that when we settled we would find a body shop and proceed from there. That was fine for them.

When I got back out to the parking lot things had changed. Bob had found out that the dealership had a working relationship with a body shop in the area and after talking it over we decided to stay put and get this fixed once and for all. So here we sit. In a hotel. With only one computer between us. This is gonna be a lllloooooonnnnnggggg week!

So we made our way to the body shop, had the guys there look at it and a course of action was planned. The body shop will make up a quote for the job and fax it to the company who will determine if they will pay it outright or turn it over to their insurance company,,,,all depends on the amount of the bill.

The ladies in the office could not have been more helpful. They even called the hotel and made our reservations for us. We're in the Lumberton Inn, in Lumberton of course. Its a fairly new hotel, only a year old and its really very nice.

When we got checked in the desk clerk, who happens to be a very good friend of one of the ladies in the body shop, faxed our bill for the 9 days we're going to be here over to the body shop. In turn, when they fax the quote they will fax our hotel bill at the same time.

You should have seen us checking in! Because we had to pack so quickly we just threw stuff in Walmart plastic bags. So here we go into this nice hotel with our belongings in plastic bags and we're carrying our live plants with us and two loaves of bread and coolers full of food from the fridge. I mean, we did not plan on a hotel stay at all.

I touched base this afternoon with the wholesale flower company after I knew they had the quote and our hotel bill. (We were faxed copies of everything too) It has been decided that this will be an insurance company issue as the quote was just a tad bit less than $5,000.00 and our hotel bill was just under $700.00. On top of that they are going to pay us each a Per Diem for food since we have to eat all our meals in restaurants. That's gonna get OLD real fast!

So I must say that this company is really stepping up to the plate to take care of us. The lady I was talking to asked if there was anything else we needed and to just say so if there was.

They had offered to take care of getting our truck cleaned up but that wasn't a priority with us because we know the oil is going to come off of it because of the gel-coat. They didn't want to hear it! They are insisting we get it detailed so that is something we'll get done while we're here. I'll make sure that gets done on a nice sunny day so Bob can take care of that and I'll spend the day at the pool.

So here's our timeline for the way we THINK things will go.

Friday: Body shop hears from the insurance company with an authorization number and starts taping (covering) the windows and graphics on our rig. We sit.

Saturday: Body shop closed. We sit. (It's going to rain)

Sunday: Body shop closed. We sit. (It's going to rain)

Monday: Body shop starts sanding. We do something if both of us are still talking to each other after sitting all weekend!

Tuesday: Body shop finishes sanding. Who knows what in the hell we'll be doing.

Wednesday: Body shop starts painting. We climb the walls!

Thursday: Body shop had darn well better be done painting by now and have the new clear coat on!!!

Friday: We pick up rig and high tail it out of the "Golden Triangle"!

We'll see how it really goes. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

4/11/07 Tax Day for the Quinn's

I dread this day. Every year I dread this day. All the years I have left I will dread this day.

I've been going to the same lady to have our taxes done for the last several years. Shirley made our tax day bearable. She kept me laughing and I made her laugh with my creative suggestions on deductions I wanted to take. I really, really missed Shirley today! What usually takes me an hour to an hour and a half with her took me 4 hours with Bobbye today. Let me explain what the problem was. Texas does not have state income tax. (How cool is that?) Therefore they really don't know how to do them. In fact, this is the first year that each tax office does them in house. Years prior they sent them to one particular person who did all the state taxes that were presented in the state of Texas. With so many "winter Texans" here during tax time now I guess it was overwhelming for him so now each office has the software to do them as they are presented. Well, Bobbye, as nice as she was, the dear lady just didn't have a clue. I think I did more of the tax return than she did. Bottom line, we're getting a nice chunk of change back and it will come in handy.

From taxes we went to the Hundred Dollar Store and dropped well over a hundred dollars today. Our fax/scanner/printer died and we had to replace it. Add some groceries, beer, Pepsi's and few other odds and ends and it really adds up.

We got home and I made a chicken/vegetable stir fry for dinner, got the laundry we had done and started packing up for the move tomorrow.

A non-stop day to say the least!

I think the plan for tomorrow is to keep right on going when we pick up our rig after its bath. We're heading to McKinney State Park outside of Austin to meet up with our friends Rich and Jackie. They came to see us in January in Florida and now we're in their neck of the woods so we're going to spend a few days with them.

I don't know what our Internet connection will be, if any, so if I don't post for the next few days its because I have no access. (My scrabble withdrawal is starting just thinking about it!) I'll take notes of our doings and will bring you up to date as soon as I can. Take care all!

4/10/07 Happy B'day to a VERY SPECIAL LADY!

Today is my mom's birthday! Happy Birthday to you, MOM!

I had every intention of going shopping a week ago and buying something nice for her but both
Bob and I are suffering from, what day, date, time, state are we in and time just plain got away from me. So I thought and thought about how to let her know we were thinking about her. We sent her flowers. I called the local flower shop back home and gave instructions on how I wanted the card to read. You see, my Mom does the Cryptogram every day in the newspaper so I made our greeting into a cryptogram for her to figure out. The young lady who took my order made one small mistake but Mom figured it out anyway. She seemed very pleased when I called her in the afternoon to talk to her, so I guess we did good.

It rained here this morning, not just cats and dogs but Great Dane's and Maine coon cats! We had just under one and a half inches in just under 6 hours. That's a lot of rain! The ground around here, what grassy parts there are in this park just can't absorb any more moisture. All the "lawns" between the sites are just saturated.

The sun did peak out today in late afternoon so we took advantage and went for a ride. We wanted to drive to the place where we'll take the rig on Thursday for its cleaning so that we'll know where we're going and not have to figure it out during morning rush hour. It's only 12 miles away, closer than we thought.

After we arrived home it hit me that I didn't feel like cooking so I suggested we go out to dinner. Bob agreed readily so we went to Pappadeaux's for seafood. We both had a very good meal! If you are ever in the Beaumont,Texas area be sure to stop there for dinner.

Evening time brought us more TV, a few games of Scrabble and online poker. People don't seem to come out of their rigs like at other campgrounds we've been in. I haven't figured out why that is.

So there it is, another day in the Golden Triangle.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

4/9/07 Rain and Wind, Wind and Rain

Woke up this morning to rain and wind. Nothing unusual it seems for this area.

Speaking of this area I was reading a magazine called FYI 2007 that concerns the area known as the Golden Triangle. We are in Beaumont which with the cities of Port Arthur and Orange make up the Golden Triangle. In one section of this magazine was a topic called "How's the Weather?". It was here I found out that, typically, April has a total of 6 clear days! Six! We haven't seen one yet.

We spent our morning doing the usual "morning things" and then played on our computers for a while. Lo and behold the rain stopped, the wind died down and the sun came out! We decided to go for a ride just to get out of the house for awhile and into some fresh air.

We ended up not too far from where we are staying and walked through the gardens at the Binks Horticultural Center.

Some shots of what we saw.....

A little green lizard sunning himself.

We saw a few high school senior girls getting their pictures taken in the gardens. There was mom, the senior, the professional photographer and the helper going from setting to setting taking her senior pictures. I remember back in the day when the photographer came to the school, we all wore dark colored sweaters and that was it. My how times have changed.

We came upon this area in the gardens that we thought was especially nice. It's a tribute to 9-11.

Inside these gates is a marble monument depicting the Twin Towers and the other buildings that came down that day.

Below is a monu-ment giv-ing tribute to the canines that played an impor-tant part in recovering the bodies in the rubble.

Monday, April 9, 2007

4/8/07 It's Easter!

Happy Easter to all!

Its a rainy, dreary day here in Texas, a good day to hunker down and lay low. Need I tell you its windy?

We both spent most of the day on our computers, thank heavens we have two or there would have been major fights over who got to use it if we had just one.

For our Easter dinner I put a roast in the crock pot. Our place smelled so good after awhile.

In the afternoon we kept an ear on the television following along with the Masters Golf Tournement while Bob researched campgrounds in Arizona and I played online Scrabble. I have a feeling we'll be in Arizona next winter instead of Texas as we originally planned. I think the wind is playing a big part in this decision. I could be wrong, I'll have to wait and see.

4/7/07 Winter Weather in Texas

We're back in long pants and winter jackets again. The weather is rainy, windy and cold. It didn't get past 38 degrees today. According to the local weatherman all kinds of records were broken today.

The wind is just unbelievable. I don't know how people live here all the time.

There was a short lull and we used that time to go to the Hundred Dollar Store again. Partly to get in some more food/drink but mostly just to get out of the trailer.

We've been in Beaumont much too long. We can't wait move on again.

4/6/07 Let's See Port Arthur

When we crossed the Texas state line we stopped at the Welcome Center and picked up lots of brochures for area attractions. One of them was for a driving tour of Port Arthur.

Today we went there to take the tour but we had one stop on the way to make. My cell died again. We found another Verizon store and after explaining that this happened two days in a row and that taking the battery out and putting it back in was no longer an acceptable fix, they replaced my phone. Same model but that's OK with me, I don't have to learn how to use a new one.

We were surprised to find the area still in bad shape after Hurricane Rita. Houses with blue tarps over them to keep the rain out. Many with just shreds of blue tarps left, standing empty. Huge buildings with the windows blown out and no roof to speak of. You know these were once large employers for the town's people. Gone now, just shells left after the devastation of this forceful hurricane. A dying town to say the least.

We couldn't find the places listed in the brochure so we stopped at a small market to ask questions. The lady behind the counter took the brochure and started reading down the list of places of interest. One by one she said, "That ones no longer there, that ones closed and on and on down the list she went. We then noticed the publishing date of June, 2003. Rita came through in 2005. That explained a lot.

4/5/07 My Cell Phone is DEAD!

Just about the worst thing that could happen to me has happened. My cell phone has died. Thankfully its still under warranty, we just have to find a Verizon shop.

We wanted to get out of the rig today anyway so we went in search of one. Luckily, there wasn't one too far away the lady at the gas station said and we headed right over there.

The Verizon people took the battery out and put it back in and the phone worked just fine. Who knew?

We spent the next few hours just exploring. We did run into one section of town that was the "Delaware" section. Delaware Street, and housing development called Delaware Heights and Delaware this and Delaware that. Almost felt like home!

When we got back to the rig we noticed we hadn't added Texas to our states map so that was a task we took care of right away.

What a difference those four added states make!

We'd like to take this time to say "Happy Birthday" to our sister-in-law, Michelle. We hope it is a good one for you Chelle!.

4/4/07 Ashley Calls....

First thing this morning we heard from Ashley, the dispatcher from Pittman Flowers. They want us to take the rig to a professional and have it cleaned to see if the oil can be removed. That certainly sounds like a fair request to us.

I got on the computer, thank heaven for these things, and I called a local RV dealer. He said he couldn't do anything to help us but could recommend someone in Lumberton who should be able to. I called the fellow and he said, "Sure, I can get the oil off and your rig will look like new when we're done with it." Now that sounds good but Bob has his doubts. Now the bad part. He can't get us in until a week from this Thursday. That means we'll have to hang around Beaumont longer than we expected. Not what we wanted to hear but we'll have to deal with it.

So here we'll sit for the next nine days.

Bob did take the truck today to see if our windshield could be repaired instead of replaced. It can be! He has an appointment later today.

We spent the afternoon watching TV, spending time on our computers, reading, anything to pass the time. Its cool outside, and windy, so we just want to hang out here.

Bob took the truck for its appointment with the glass man and he did a really good job fixing it. You can hardly see where the "cross" was. He said he couldn't guarantee that it wouldn't spread but he did tell Bob that he hasn't had one come back because of doing so. So we'll watch this pinpoint of a mark we have on our windshield and make sure the windows are never all the way up in the heat! This repair cost us $40.00. We didn't think that was too bad at all.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

4/3/07 Oh No! Not This!

It sure is windy here in Texas. It just doesn't stop. I've asked a few people if its like this all time and all three said, "Yep, windy all the time here". Not just a stiff breeze, a wind that makes the flags stand straight out.

We need to get some things in the house to eat and we need to replenish the cooler with beer and Pepsi's. We have to travel some busy roads to get to the Walmart but it isn't too far away. One thing we noticed are all the restaurant banners advertising that "Crawfish have arrived!" Must be a big thing around here.

So off to the Hundred Dollar Store we go. It isn't set up the same as the last Walmart so it takes us a little longer to do the shopping today.

On our way "home" we were about two miles from the campground and a truck in front of us kicked up a stone and there went the windshield! We had a hit that left a "cross" mark. OH geez,,,like we needed this after yesterday! You know what they say, *hit happens!

Bob got on the computer as soon as we unloaded and started looking for glass shops so we could get this taken care of. He did find one shop that advertised repairing rather than replacing. Ok, he'll check that out tomorrow.

After dinner we were watching TV on a major network and we realized that we were watching 8pm shows at 7. Ahhhh....now it makes sense. How many times at home in Delaware did we hear such and such show at 8,,,, 7 central. We're in central time. Now I understand why Letterman and Leno were on at 10:30. I guess with the time change, changing time zones, waking up every morning and having to figure out what day of the week it is, what date it is and even what state we were in just had us off our mark. I think we've got it all together now.

4/2/07 We're Off To Lake Charles, LA

Today we left New Iberia and are headed to Lake Charles.

The roads were terrible! We felt like we were on a very bumpy roller coaster and this was the interstate highway. We guessed that with the storms that have hit this area that their roads had taken a beating and their "fixes" leave a lot to be desired!

Bob had found two possible RV parks for us the day before. Each had very good ratings and were close together so we could look at both of them to see which we liked best.
The first RV park had us sitting there looking out the truck window in total disbelief! This place had good ratings? This is not a place where we would stay.

So on down the road we go in hopes that the next park was in better shape. Not a chance! It was worse than the first! Just a few blocks down the road we found it. Picture this.... an old gutted gas station building with the overhang resting on the ground at one corner. Windows busted out and trash all over the place. Now picture next to this a half dozen old RV's lined up haphazardly. THAT was what we saw for the next "campground". Uh-uh,,,not for us. Let's get out of Louisiana!

It didn't take us long to make that decision. We're sure Louisiana has some great places, we just didn't see them. We had hoped to get to New Orleans but we had heard there were no campgrounds available as they are still filled with FEMA trailers housing displaced residents and construction workers who came to help with the re-building.

Onward to TEXAS!

We were headed towards Beaumont to spend a few days there as Bob is hoping to get some fishing in at Port Arthur.

So here we are rolling along, minding our own business and all of a sudden Bob yelled something unmentionable here. I looked up and saw something on the windshield but didn't realize what was happening. Bob was finally able to tell me what was going on. A delivery truck in the left hand lane was having mechanical problems and was spewing its oil all over the place! That means all over our truck and 5th wheel! We watched this truck as the driver put on the emergency flashers and proceeded to the center and right lanes to get to the shoulder. We couldn't get away from him so the oil spray was just getting worse! We couldn't get over to pull over as we were in the center lane and traffic wouldn't allow us to move over. We had no choice but to keep going. I did grab the cell phone and punch in the number listed on the truck so that I could call them and let them know what happened. In my haste I guess I transposed two numbers and got some fella named Doug who had never heard of Pittman Wholesale Flowers. Oh no, what were we going to do now as we were well past the truck on the side of the road at this point. We did pull over as soon as we got to the next exit and Bob tried to get the oil off of the front of the rig but I guess it dried fast with the traveling at 60 mph that we were doing. What a mess! We were just sick.

We did pull into the first rest stop over the Texas state line and got these shots.

We finally made it to the RV park by late afternoon. We were so no sooner set up and I was on the computer trying to find Pittman Wholesale Flowers. I couldn't find anything on them and it was extremely frustrating. I called several agencies in Louisiana that might have some connection to the wholesale florist trade but kept running into brick walls. Then it dawned on me. I checked to see where the area code I had was for. Not being familiar with area codes in this part of the country and coming from a state with just one area code....well, it was a shot in the dark. PAYDAY! The area code I had was for Arkansas! Here I was looking in the wrong place. So I "googled" wholesale flowers in Arkansas and sure enough I found Pittman Flowers. What a relief! I was just one number off in the phone number I punched into my cell. The prefix was 234, not 324.

I called and asked for the dispatcher or vehicle service manager and was connected with Ashley, the dispatcher. I explained that we were I-10 and saw that one of their drivers was having a problem on the road and asked if he was ok. She assured me he was. I just wanted her to confirm that one of their trucks did have a problem. I then went on to explain what had happened and she assured me that the company would do whatever it took to make things right for us. We took pictures and emailed them to her which was a monumental task in itself. We had a very weak Wifi signal and I kept getting kicked offline. Here are some of the pics we sent her. Double click on the pics for a better idea of what happened.

We managed to get two pictures to Ashley before her day was done. I assured her we would send the rest and they would be there in the morning when she got in to work. It took me a couple of hours but I finally got all nine pictures to her.
After soup and sandwiches for dinner we finally had a chance to settle down. What a day!

3/31/07 A Change in PLans

We were supposed to get up this morning and head to Vicksburg to spend a few days there. After looking at the maps again Bob decided against heading north because we would only have to come south again and he didn't want to zig-zag across the states as we made our way westward. I was dissappointed as there were things in Vicksburg I wanted to see but I could understand his logic especially giving thought to fuel costs. Paying for diesel fuel is killing us!

But we did get to add a state to our map even though our visit to Mississippi was shorter than we expected. But we'll be back someday.

Next stop.....Louisiana!

We pulled into Louisana in mid-afternoon and pulled into Chase's RV park.

Once again, not a RV "resort" but rather a mom and pop type place. There were quite a few FEMA trailers in place since many, many people are still living in the RV's due to hurricanes Katrina and Rita. On the way here we passed an extremely large field, think the size of several football fields, filled with row upon row upon row of FEMA trailers that are no longer in use. I wish we had been able to get a picture of that to show you just how many there were.

So we got set up and settled in the for evening. We had Wifi so we were able to play our online addictions, poker and scrabble.

3/30/07 Goodbye Alabama!

It's time move on. Since we only have a few weeks before we have to be in Missouri we can only spend a few days in each state. We'll come back for more in depth sightseeing again.

We're heading to Mississippi.

It didn't take long to get to there and we headed towards the campground called Hidden Springs Vacation Resort that we found to spend the night. Imagine our surprise when we saw the sign that said "Member's Only". We went in far enough to turn around when we saw someone from the campground come out. I explained to her that we didn't know it was a Member's Only campground and that we just needed to turn around. She said they were allowed guests and if we wanted to stay we were welcome. So for $20.00 for the night we thought it was a good deal. A good deal until we found that there was no cable TV, no Wifi. We did have a good view though and since we were only here for the night it was going to be no big deal.

We did meet our neighbors, want to guess where they were from? Bet you guessed Michigan! Well, surprise, you'd be wrong. They were from California. Sandy and I sat out in the evening discussing what it is like full timing and what we've learned so far.

They have been full timing for two years now and she gave me lots of tips on places to go and things to see. I hope we seem them again sometime on the road. I really enjoyed sitting and talking with her.

Friday, April 6, 2007

3/29/07 We Visit Dauphin Island, AL

First order of business today was add a state to our travel map. Here is Bob adding Alabama to places we've been. Take note on the sidebar of this site that a map has been added. The first "states map" shows the states we've been to prior to our full timing adventure. The second will show the additional states we've visited since we left Delaware. (look how tan he is, makes you sick doesn't it?) Today we went to Dauphin Island which is located 33 miles from Mobile, Alabama, 130 miles to the east of New Orleans, Louisiana. First stop was to get something to eat as we arrived at lunchtime. There didn't seem to be many restaurants so we picked the first decent looking one. Lunch at Barnacle Bill's it is! I'd have to take exception to their claim of having the "Best Food on the Island". Heaven help the residents of Dauphin Island if this true. Bob seemed to enjoy the fish dish he had but my grilled chicken over salad greens and veggies left a lot to be desired. Warm salad doesn't just do it for me.

Note to Bob's fishing buddies:

Bob caught this fish and a taxidermist was on site so we had it stuffed and donated it to Barnacle Bill's since we didn't have a wall big enough in the 5th wheel to place it.

If you believe that one see me about a bridge we have for sale.....

Just down the road from the restaurant are some condo's for rent. Our first thought was wow....skinny little places arent' they?
and then we turned the corner.....

Now how much room can there be in these things?

This place was pretty devastated by Hurrican Rita, the one that came through after being hit by the edge of Katrina. Below is a picture of what is left of a beach house.

There is a lot of building going on though and some have been rebuilt. Here is an example of how high on stilts they are being built now. Its sad to see all the empty lots where probably what were at one time very nice homes. All thats left are the pilings.

After touring this island from one end to the other it was time to go home. We decided to go home by way of ferry. Here are some pics from that area.

These cement "things" in the water are WADS, which stands for Wave Attenuation Devices. These were placed here to protect the marsh and submerged oyster beds. This artificial reef is engineered to reduce the impact of boat activity and storm events. When standing on the pier and looking at the WADS we could see hermit crabs in their natural habitat rather than for sale in a wire cage on some boardwalk. Nature at its best!

Below is the ferry coming in that we will get on. We'll be on it for 45 minutes and I keep telling myself, "you will not get seasick, you will not get seasick".


While on the ferry Bob counted over 30 of these oil rigs in the portion of the Bay that we could see.

Well, we had another awesome day in our adventure here on Dauphin Island. We're glad we came to see what this island had to offer. We did find a nice campground so this is on our list of places to return to. Not during hurricane season of course!

When we got back to the campground we found that one of the campers was having mechanical problems and needed a tow truck for their car. Imagine their surprise when this showed up!

Thursday, April 5, 2007

3/28/07 A Visit to Fairhope, AL

We checked out Fairhope today. This little city has a connection for us as a very special friend of ours, Dianne, lived here for a few years a while back. We'll get to see where she lived. Take notice of the "bird" in front of the clock. Every corner had one of these decorated birds on it. Some were quite creative. Here are some pics of my favorites.

and we can't forget SUPERBIRD!

As you can see by the blue sky we had the perfect day to see Fairhope.

This charming little town is situated on the Eastern Shore of Mobile Bay and twelve thousand people call this small city home. It's hard to determine if one is supposed to call this place a little town or a small city. It doesn't have hustle and bustle that the word "city" implies but rather a laid back feel as one strolls the avenues. "Mayberry" comes to mind.

Fairhope is best known for its panoramic views of Mobile Bay, its quaint little shops and its flowers. It is called by some the "City of Flowers". They have them in abundance! Every street corner is "planted" with colorful blooms. Hanging baskets and flower boxes decorate the sidewalks in front of most businesses. I had the feeling they were competition with each other to see who could outdo the next.

On one corner they had some unusual yard art work. It seems as though the "artist" took a piece of tree, whittled one end into a point, stuck it in the ground and then took another small branch and carved out a notch so that it would balance on the first. Quite a few people stopped to look while we were there.

Thirst had set in and it was time to get something to wet the ol' whistle. The Pub looked like a good place so we made ourselves comfortable at the bar while we downed a beer and soda.
After walking a few more streets we wandered into what is called the French Quarter.

We didn't know what to expect when we wander-ed under the sign but we were delighted to find a little courtyard with tables, chairs and fountain all situated under a huge tree. The courtyard was framed by little shops. It was the perfect place for lunch!

We ordered lunch from Panini Pete's. We both ordered burgers and I had fries with mine for us to share. Now we've seen "skinny" fries in our day but these were the skinniest yet, but these were oh so good! Slivers of potato fried to a crisp.

We exited our lunchtime haven at the opposite end of the courtyard from which we entered. As we were walking down the street we couldn't help but notice this HUGE tree and its root system.

Have you ever seen anything like this?

So there was our day in Fairhope, Alabama. We enjoyed it thoroughly and would highly recommend anyone traveling through southern Alabama to stop and smell the roses here.
When we got back home our neighbors were out and we stopped to talk to them for awhile. I'm not even going to tell you where they were from because I'm tired of typing out the name of this "M" state!
We ended our day with TV and good memories of Fairhope.