Saturday, January 29, 2011

Just Movin' Down the Road

It was a boring day!  We started out around 10 this morning and just kept driving across Texas.  Here is the scenery when we started; lots of trees and hills.

By noon, trees were still there, but we lost the grass and the hills.

The view at 2 was very flat and somewhat barren.

We arrived at the campground around 3.  Here's the view at 3:30:

There wasn't a blade of grass at this campground.  It was very windy and dusty.  But sunset was very pretty.

So, it was a boring drive but we put on many miles and still have more to go tomorrow.  We will be in Las Cruces, NM tomorrow night.  We talked with our fulltiming friend Pam today and have reservations at their campground for Monday and Tuesday night in Tucson.  We're looking forward to seeing them again!

Happy Birthday to Denny (Bob's brother)!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Motorcycling in the Texas Hill Country

Today started late for us.  We slept until 8:00 which is waaaay past our normal get up time!  We must be starting to relax.  Bob made a breakfast of eggs and bacon for a really lazy morning.  The temperature was in the 40's when we got up but it warmed up pretty fast.  After Bob got the motorcycle all ready, it was about 11:00 and much warmer.  The temperature got up to 74 today.

We took a bunch of the local roads: east from here on local roads, north fron a "Farm-to-Market" to the famous Luckenback, east on US290 to LBJs place, south and east on more F-M roads to Blanco for a late lunch, more F-M roads to Boerne (the local big city), followed by the Interstate back home.  It felt good to be riding again - I think the bike has been hibernating since October. 

The terrain was hilly, as expected, and somewhat filled with trees.  There were many ranches around.  The driveways had bricked entrances with closed gates with the names of the ranches on them.  They looked pretty fancy.  Rarely could you get a glimpse of the houses - darn!  Another surprise was how many For Sale signs were hung on those gates. 

While motorcycling, it brought back lots of memories of long motorcycle trips with our good friends the Almekinders.  I missed them today!  I accused Bob of also remembering those trips of "putting on miles" as he rode quickly past a whole bunch of wineries.  He did turn around and we went to one - hugely overpriced and not worth the stop. 

Tomorrow and Sunday are going to be long days trying to get across Texas.  We won't be doing much of anything except driving so our blogging may be spotty.  On Monday we plan on getting to Tucson to see some fellow fulltiming friends, Dan and Pam, and doing some sightseeing.  We'll leave on Wednesday morning to get to Paula's in Phoenix.  Looking forward to seeing them! 

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Hello San Antonio, Goodbye House

We arrived in San Antonio today around 2.  This is a very nice campground with lots of space between sites. 

San Antonio is a very hilly area and, same as Houston, has lots of freeways with lots of lanes. This time of the year there isn’t a lot of green. The grass and trees are pretty brown. After getting set up, we drove back to San Antonio. We first went to the Alamo. We had time to look around and then a guide gave us an overview of what happened here in the 1830’s. Quite interesting.
Then we walked to The Riverwalk. This is the San Antonio River that winds through the city and they have made a city park along it. There are statues, fountains, hotels, restaurants and shops, and gardens all along the walk. We took a gondola tour along the river.

Tomorrow we’re going to do some motorcycling in the Texas Hill Country. It’s supposed to be in the low 70’s and sunny – yippee!

Also today Kath, our realtor, called with the news that the closing on the house went well. This is good news and takes a lot of pressure off of us. For so long we thought that we’d need to get an alternate plan to cover the house while we hit the road but we got the offer right before we left. Thanks to Kath and Dave, the paperwork got signed and processed while we continued on our adventure. We’re happy, but leaves me (Paige) with some sadness also. As Valentina recently said as she came into the house, “I’ll miss this house. There are so many memories here.” This is so true! But we’ll be making new memories with all our friends and family also!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Into Texas

Today we left Betty's around 9:30.  The neighbors came to say goodbye and wish us well.  They sure are a friendly bunch there! It is a unique place!

We pretty much travelled all day. 
The terrain in Texas is starting to now get less wet and a bit more hilly.  Louisiana was very flat and lots of water.  Today we went through Houston and stopped at a campground just west of the city.  Houston was very metropolitan after Louisiana and had great freeways.  The campground sure doesn't have the personality of Betty's but it's just for one night anyways.

Tomorrow we're going to have a short day; only driving to San Antonio.  We're hoping to spend two nights there and do some sight seeing.  Maybe even do a motorcycle ride into the "Hill Country".

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Laundry Day

Today started out pretty cloudy and dreary.  A good day to do the laundry which, I swear, accumulates faster in a motorhome!  We went into Abbeville to a nice laundromat and found that our neighbor in the RV Park was also there.  That made the time go faster to have someone to visit with.

After getting everything put away, we decided to take a ride to a restaurant/grocery store that we'd heard about in some other blogs, Suires.  It is known for local food that's very good and reasonably priced.  It has been in business for many years and run by the current family for 34 years.  We ordered po-boys (a local sandwich); a shrimp one and a shrimp and oyster one.  Very good!  It's so friendly here - while waiting for our order another customer started a conversation with us about this area.

After lunch, we took a rider around the area.  It's very flat and wet here.  We saw lots of fields where they have traps for crawfish set out.  Also, we saw more Cypress Knees.  Here is a picture of some:
They are growths from the roots of the Cypress trees that grow in the water around the base of the main tree.  No one really knows what their purpose is.

Tomorrow we're hitting the road to begin crossing Texas.  It will take us awhile, so we'll stay in touch!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Betty's RV Park

We left New Orleans this morning, backtracking on US90 opposite of the we came here on Friday.  Just a little ways past Baldwin, where we've spent most of the month, we turned west on a state highway to get to Abbeville, home of Betty's RV park.  I have read about Betty in a number of other peoples' blogs and felt that we had to stop as long as we were close.

The first significant rain in weeks started about 1:00 and got heavier all afternoon.  We arrived at Betty's a little after 2:00 PM.  Happy hour starts in Betty's porch at 4:00 PM every afternoon with a variety of activities later.  Tonight was a potluck supper.  Paige searched the pantry and got creative with what she found.  We met with Betty and 9 of her other guests, and had a great time sharing stories.  Here is Betty on the far right. 
Two other guests on the far left were cut off, but they really are there.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Tourists in New Orleans

Since we had finished our 2 week commitment at UMCOR Sager Brown, and since we are not sure when we will be back to this area, we headed east last Friday afternoon, the wrong way to Phoenix (if we had been in a hurry). Within 2 hours we pulled into Bayou Segnette State Park in suburban New Orleans.

On Saturday morning, after taking the car a short distance to a parking lot, we walked onto a free ferry across the Mississippi River into the city proper, arriving at the foot of Canal Street. With the Warehouse/Central Business district to our left and the French Quarter to our right, we were right in the middle of the action. Our top priorities were food and music, with history and people watching close behind. We walked about 3 laps throughout the French Quarter, the first one taking in the history and layout. The second lap picked up the music and food. Have you ever seen a vocalist at an outdoor venue trying to sing through a turtleneck and scarf? She thought it was a cold day.

The Red Fish restaurant, near Canal on Bourbon St, was recommended to us last month, and the seafood was terrific. Our 3rd lap brought us to a Jazz performance at the Preservation Hall. You can’t get any closer to the performers than this.

Sunday was quite a bit shorter, but still very interesting. We started by taking the ferry again and walking the length of their huge Convention Center to get to Marti Gras World, which is a contractor who builds many of the floats used in the many parades here. They have a Visitor Center, complete with video and tour of their production area. There are dozens of krewes who build their own floats and schedule their own parades. As many as 60 different parades are held over a 3 week period (ending the day before Ash Wednesday, Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday)) on a variety of routes; any one of which could last 5-6 hours. This shop designs and builds the floats, focusing on fiberglass and Styrofoam construction. Every year the designs change, so they rebuild and repaint the props every year.

We took their shuttle back to Canal Street and walked to the opposite end of the French Quarter to catch a free jam session put on by the Louis Armstrong Society Jazz Band at the Jazz Museum operated by the National Park Service. The group included a singing Park Ranger. It was great, and the price was even better (free!). After more local cuisine (a combination of Lunch and Dinner) we tried to get home by 6:00 to put our feet up, and get ready to roll again tomorrow, this time really heading west toward Phoenix. It might take us anywhere from a week to a week and a half to get there.

Granddaughters – what is a beignet? Grandma loves them!!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Done at Sager Brown

Our first service project is complete. We left Sager Brown at about 1:30 today. Here are some random thoughts about the past two weeks:

• Paige serged 500 baby blankets. What a feeling of accomplishment! These blankets are used in birthing kits (given to midwives in third world countries and contain 1 blanket for cleaning the baby after birth and 1 blanket for wrapping baby, string for the umbilical cord, a razor, and bar of soap) and in layette kits with other assorted baby items. Lois was my partner on this project and she did the cutting of the flannel. She is a retired minister and working with her on these blankets was great fun. Lois lives in southern MN and will be contacting us in April when we do a NOMADS project in northern Iowa. I’m looking forward to seeing her there!

• Bob worked one day in the Depot initially and then went with a smaller group to do work in the community. Week One they built a couple of wheelchair ramps. Week Two Bob worked with a different group that continued to work on a house that was started the first week. This house had very soft floors in a couple of rooms and other assorted issues throughout (according to Bob, there were worse houses in the neighborhood!). Bob came home pretty dirty every night and one night we even threw his shirt away! He enjoyed doing the work and also met a lot of other volunteers.

• We met so many new volunteers! Bonnie is from Litchfield area and wanted to learn to knit socks so we spent time together doing this. She is well on her way to knitting her first sock! There were about 3-4 retired ministers. We were with the Hennepin Avenue Methodist Church group – there was also a group from Maple Grove and a group from Blue Earth, MN. Most from MN but we also had people from Alabama, New Mexico, Wisconsin, Iowa and Pennsylvania.

• In addition to the project work, we had time to do some sight seeing. Touring the Governor’s Mansion, the Swamp Tour, and the Offshore Oil Rig tour were all very interesting. We also hit some good restaurants for seafood. Yesterday we took the recommendation of Freddie from the Depot and got shrimp to bring to Paula’s. We also got some good local sausage and boudin sausage.

• Sager Brown is a multi-building facility. There are buildings that house the volunteers, a cafeteria, a chapel, administration, museum, gift shop, garage for vehicles, the big depot, and the RV campground. Daily we’d get up by 6:30, have breakfast at 7:30, devotions at 8:10, start work at 8:30, break at 11:30 for lunch at noon, back to work at 1 and done for the day at 3:30 or 4:00. Supper was at 5:30. I’m looking forward to sleeping in now!!!

We drove about 100 miles to a state park by New Orleans this afternoon. We fixed supper here (novel concept!) and just honkered down tonight. It’s going to be in the mid-20’s tonight which is very cold for this area. It will be in the low 50’s tomorrow. We’re going to take a ferry to the French Quarter and spend the afternoon over there – maybe the evening too if we hold out. We’ll be staying here until Monday and then heading slowly to AZ.

For Mom – here’s another picture from the swamp tour. We saw lots of turtles but most would hit the water when we’d get close. These let us get pretty close.

For the granddaughters – what is boudin sausage? (very popular here)
And for those with sweet tooths: what is "Tupelo Honey"? (we learned this on the swamp tour)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Cajun Country Swamp Tour

This morning was the usual stuff; breakfast (our turn to help clean up) then Paige to serge blankets and Bob to repair a house. We met back at the cafeteria for lunch.

We had this afternoon off to do some more tourist stuff. We decided to go with a group of people to the Cajun Country Swamp Tour (the owner said he worked in Cloquet for two years long ago). We had a young guide (son of the owner) who grew up in this area and was very knowledgeable. It was a warm (low 60’s) and sunny day. Perfect for this activity! There were 12 of us in an aluminum skiff with a very quiet outboard motor. Here are a few pictures:

Our guide and some of our fellow volunteers.

Some of the many birds (Heron and Ibis). Note the black bird drying his wings.

Just some of the beautiful scenery. The water was like glass here.

We came home exhausted but ready to go to dinner with the group that we came with from Hennepin Methodist Church. We went to a nice restaurant in Franklin where we all had great meals – lots of good seafood. There were about 18 people in the group.

Question for the day based on what we saw on our tour – what is a Cypress Knee??

Monday, January 17, 2011

Martin Luther King Parade

Today we were invited to participate in the Baldwin Martin Luther King parade. Many from our project walked the mile or so parade and others met us at the Methodist church for the program. I did the walk while Bob worked with the project. This was the first time that I’ve participated in any MLK activity. It was a very interesting experience. One thing that I noticed right away was that out of the 100 or so walkers, other than those of us from Sager Brown (about 20), there were less than 5 white people. I don’t know if this is because the local white population is uninterested in MLK day or if there is still a wide gulf between the blacks and whites here. The focus of the message communicated during the program was for the young people to continue the work started by Martin Luther King for equal rights for all races.

Here is a picture of the walk and one of the program at the church.

Bob spent the day working on a house in the community. The weather has warmed up (63 degrees) and it was very hot in this house. There is a lot of work needed – lifting it up, putting in a new floors, etc.  About 5 people worked here last week, and another 7 or 8 today; we are still not done. It needed a LOT of work, and it won’t be great when we are done, but it will be better.

I continued to make baby blankets this afternoon. They are being packaged for shipments as fast as we create them. It’s very fulfilling to see the fruits of your labor right away. Not like the corporate world!!

Speaking of the corporate world – we are still acclimating to retirement. We decided to go to New Orleans when we’re done here on Friday. Bob made reservations for Friday and Saturday night at a state park. As we thought about this yesterday, we were not excited about driving on Sunday. Then we remembered – we’re RETIRED! We don’t have to leave on Sunday but can extend our stay to Monday and travel when there’s less traffic. Duh!! We’ll get used to this yet!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Visit to the Governor’s Mansion

Today started out as a lazy Sunday morning. Bob got a newspaper so I could get my weekly coupon fix. With encouragement from our neighbors, we decided to go to church services at the Methodist church in Franklin (the next city to the south). There are 2 Methodist churches in Franklin, the black church and the white church. The director and managers here at Sager Brown are members of the black Methodist church (even though they are white). There were 25 to 30 members in addition to our group of about 30. We were warmly welcomed to the service. The choir of about 12 members was great – they used no sheet music but sang about 4 songs from memory. It was a highly energetic service and we were glad we attended.

Yesterday we checked out the hours of operation of a restored plantation near here. We got to Oaklawn Manor and were lucky to get a private tour of the house. We had a gentleman who had lived in the house in the 70’s who provided us with a wealth of information. The house was just started to be decorated for the Mardi Gras season.  We understand there will be a lot more yet to do. 
A question for the granddaughters (and others): If we say this mansion is "antebellum", what does that word mean?

We are slow learners! After the tour of the mansion, we decided to go out to eat. Not!! Remember last Sunday? We couldn’t find a restaurant that was open around here again! We ended up eating leftovers in the motorhome. There were two new RV’s that moved in today so we spent some time visiting with the new neighbors, then settled in for the evening. We Skyped with Brett’s family tonight – that sure helps keep Grandma going!

Tomorrow is Martin Luther King Day and there is a parade in town. There is rain forecasted, but if the weather is not too bad, we may participate in this event.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Things we learned today.

The Bayou Teche can often flow in both directions.  We were told that it can take water from the Gulf (if it needs it) and give it back to the Gulf (if it’s not needed).  And this could happen a few times a day (we’ve seen this).
Today was a relaxing day of sight seeing.  We first drove toward the Gulf of Mexico and stopped when we wanted to see something.  It was a day when the temperatures peaked in the low 60’s.  Within a half hour of where we are camped is Cypremort Point State Park, and next door to that are a number of private residences (cabins?) with boats for some serious fishing.  Many of these cabins have “legs” which are very high.  Some don’t have legs at all.  The boats are rather large and are also stored in the air.
Next we moved inland to an area called Avery Island, which is home to Tobasco.
We learned about the process of making Tabasco sauce.  Also, Paige learned not to sample any unknown sauce without her glasses on.  She dipped her pretzel into a red sauce, not understanding that it was the Habanero version of Tabasco sauce – very hot!

In the afternoon, we visited the Acadian Memorial and learned the history of the Acadian people who were forced to relocate many times.   Longfellow’s poem "Evangeline" is based (loosely) on their story.  People with this heritage have become known today as Cajuns.

Here is a King Cake:
These sugary cakes are a local tradition during the Mardi Gras season, coming from the French and Spanish influences.  Note the baby in the center.  Formerly, the baby was hidden in the filling of the cake.  Whoever got the baby was then responsible for providing the cake for the next celebration.  Apparently it was decided that it was too dangerous to hide the baby and now the baby is just set on the top of the cake.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Half a Day

We started with another big buffet breakfast, but today we had kitchen duty, where it was our turn to rinse trays and wash dishes.  Today is also the anniversary of the earthquake in Haiti, so there was a special service shortly after breakfast.  Then Paige went back to the sewing room and Bob's group finished their wheelchair ramp.  How does this look for 4 non-professionals spending a day and a half?  (Don't look too closely.)

Wednesday afternoons are intentionally scheduled as free time so that many of us have time to play tourist and sight see, so that's what we did.  About 30 minutes East of here is the town of Morgan City, LA which is now home to the very first off shore oil drilling rig, and is used as a combination of museum and training facility.
We had a very interesting tour of this rig, and then wandered around Morgan City for awhile before returning to home. The weather was a little cool, but good enough to get in a short walk along the Bayou Teche River right behind where we are parked.

After our little walk, we ran into some others who were going into town (Franklin) for supper.  They invited us to come with.  We ate at a very nice little sandwich/soup shop in town.  It gave us another opportunity to get to know some very interesting new people.  So that's it for today.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

What have we been up to?

It's been 2 days already, so what have we been doing?
First off, for those who have no idea where we are, see for a lot of background information.  This facility is mainly a processing warehouse for relief supplies that are packaged here for use around the world - whenever and wherever they are needed.  For this week there are at least 50 volunteers, mostly part of 3 groups from Minnesota, who are donating their time in a lot of ways.  As first-timers, it was suggested that we spend some time in the depot.  This is a warehouse where many things come in the front door in bulk, and are re-packaged into "kits".  On Monday, Bob was in the warehouse where 4 different kits were being created: school supplies, general health, birthing kits, and baby care kits.  At least 2 more kits could have been created, but these 4 are in highest demand right now.  About 30 or more people were creating the various kits, while another 5-10 were packaging, boxing, and palletizing them so that they are ready for immediate shipment anywhere they need to go.  Paige was in the sewing center where maybe 8 more people were running a sewing operation to make blankets and book bags, and anything else out of fabric.  Paige has learned to run a serger and makes receiving blankets out of flannel by putting a nice edge around them.

That was yesterday.  Today, Paige returned to the sewing group, while Bob joined one of 2 teams working in the neighboring communities.  He was part of a 5-person crew who spent the day building a wheelchair access ramp into a local resident's trailer home.  The need for such ramps is increasing from what we hear.  Another crew had spent yesterday and today preparing to raise a house.  It had been built on grade and the floors have seen moisture damage.  It sounds like they will be ready to lift it tomorrow and inspect the underside to see what can be done to make it last awhile longer.

This place runs on volunteer efforts with 50-60 people each week coming from all around the country to give of their time, talents, and efforts.  Normal weeks are 25 to 30 hours per week, but during periods of high demand (Katrina, Rita, Haiti, etc) they can more than double that.

Tomorrow will be a half day, with the afternoon reserved for possible sightseeing.  Those who wish to keep on working are allowed to do so, but it will be their own call.

One surprise for us is how well they feed us here.  There are 3 buffet style meals daily.  The choices are home made authentic area choices.  For example, we've had boiled shrimp and sausage with spicy, boiled potatoes for lunch today and gumbo (chicken and sausage) with rice and potato salad for dinner.  Lunch and supper come with dessert; examples are ice cream with brownies, bread pudding.  Breakfast has many options also; oatmeal, grits, eggs, sausage, bacon.  As you can see, we need to work hard to burn the calories here!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Ready to go to work

We have had really good weather after New Years Day.  When we hit the road on the 2nd, it was cold but not snowing or slippery.  The roads were in good shape through southern MN, and snowdrifts disappeared in IA.  Since then it just got better.  Today was the first time the forecast was the least bit threatening.  We had heard that rain and wind were forecast so we got another early start, and went all of 5 miles from parking spot to parking spot.  We had heard of another volunteer coming by RV who has been here quite often, and is staying for a month or more, so we planned to let him have the best site.  He was already here by 8:30AM and, since we were the next ones to park, we got the 2nd nicest site.  The rains came as forecast by mid-morning but we were already set up.  The winds never did amount to much here in town.  About 4 hours north of here the interstate is closed due to freezing rain, so we are very glad to have come early and to have taken plenty of time.

We spent the rainy part of the day doing laundry, and using the local WiFi, plus reading.  We had an official welcoming meeting this evening and learned there are 3 groups of volunteers, all from Minnesota: one from Blue Earth, one from Maple Grove, and ours which is coordinated by Hennepin Ave UMC in Minneapolis.  I think there were 45 to 50 people here at least.  As we left the meeting, we noticed the skys have cleared out, and the bad weather is gone.  It will be cooler than normal for this part of the country most of this week, but we are not complaining.

We'll get our official work assignments tomorrow morning after breakfast.  We get three meals a day while here (except for Wednesdays and Fridays when there is no supper so that we can get a chance to see the area). 

Also, some of the others who have been here many times said that there truly are good restaurants around (reference our blog of yesterday).  So we are planning on getting that information and getting to some of them.  It sounds like many of the volunteers go out together for dinners.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Cajun Coast

Since a short day was planned, we took a lot of time getting ready to leave.  We even took a long walk around the campground before taking off.  After getting back to the interstate, it was a short hop down to Lafayette, and then down US90 to Baldwin.  For the granddaughters, the area is known as the "Cajun Coast" - look it up and tell us why.

We are a day too early to get into our project site, but there is yet another casino nearby with its own RV parking area.  The on-line reviews of this place sounded OK so we are now only 3 miles away from where we will be for the next 2 weeks.  We found a site, paid for it, and went exploring.  First exploration was to go to Baldwin and find the Methodist complex.  Here it is:

Then we viewed what RV parking is available there and selected a couple of sites we will try to get tomorrow.  For further exploring, we had heard many interesting things about tourist stuff and restarants in the town of New Iberia.  We went there and found most things we were interested in were closed (on a Saturday afternoon?).  We will rely on our fellow volunteers, later this week, to suggest where we should go.
We did see a 4-lane wide lift bridge, so Duluth isn't the only place to have one.  But Duluth's is much longer and photogenic.  On the way back to our parking spot, we figured out what some of the local agriculture is about - Sugar Cane.  Always curious!!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Another Day on the Road

Today started with a lazy morning. We left our scenic campground at about 10 and headed to Louisiana. It was a good day of traveling. We stopped for a quick lunch of sandwiches in the motorhome. After getting into Louisiana, we stopped at a travel center and got a ton of literature on places of interest in the area we will be going to later this month. Many references to food!

Today was the first week anniversary of my retirement! It still is very new to me and I have to say, I’m enjoying the beejeebers out of it. Bob has yet to enjoy his retirement as I continue to keep him busy!
Tonight we are camping at a casino in Marksville, LA. Immediately upon arrival we talked with our neighbors and after a walk around the casino and area, they invited us over to cook some really good sausages over a fire. They are two sisters and their husbands who travel together in fifth wheels.

Tomorrow we’ll be heading closer to Baldwin, LA, our ultimate destination for the next two weeks.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Nice to take another day off

We started the day with a gorgeous sunrise:

After a larger than normal breakfast, we went to the Corp of Engineers visitor center. This body of water is a man-made reservoir built for flood control. There is a lot of surface area, but our neighbors have said the average depth is about 15 feet. This past year has been very dry, so there is a long walk to the water’s edge. Next we ran some errands in town and continued with some housecleaning and better organizing of “stuff” so we can find it.
We have a few more new neighbors but it is still not crowded here. It seems like a lot of snowbirds are stopping here on their way to the Rio Grande Valley. Two of the four camping loops are totally empty so the forest guys can do a controlled burn of the underbrush. It is strange to see the flames, and smell the smoke, and see the rangers casually spreading more fire. At mid afternoon we followed a couple of hiking trails, and the first one was through the still-burning areas. It was a very strange experience.
Early in the day we put on the slow cooker filled with a pot roast, potatoes, and carrots. The smell filled the motorhome and we both enjoyed a good dinner. We are starting to get used to this laid back way of life.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Long (NOT) day

Last night we had a hard rain, which washed most of the MN road salt off the motorhome, and woke up to a warm, foggy morning. Most of yesterday’s problems were resolved so things are looking better.

It was time for a break from the recent pavement-pounding which we have been doing, so today we moved from a little northeast of Texarkana, Arkansas to just west of Texarkana, Texas. A distance of only 21 miles. From a commercial campground (like a gravel parking lot with wonderful restrooms) to a beautiful wooded site in a Corp of Engineers park on Wright Parman Lake in the corner of Texas. At 60 degrees and sunny, we could really get used to this.

We took some time to finish washing the salt off of the motorhome, then did a little shopping. We plan to stay here all day tomorrow as well and rearrange the stuff we shoved in when we packed up.
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Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Things Could Be Worse??

We woke up to morning temperatures in the mid 20's in Joplin, MO.  It was a nice sunny morning, however.  We got on the road by 10 a.m. with a goal of getting to Texarkana, Arkansas.  (For Sophia's homework, this city is very close to where 3 states come together; which states: 1-____, 2-___, 3-____?)  We went through Ft. Smith, Arkansas which is the home of Baldor (the company from which Bob retired).  The weather warmed up as the day went and we got further south.  By the time we got to our destination it was 60 - yipee!

Bob was looking forward to getting the de-winterizing of the plumbing done as we now are confident that the temperatures won't cause freezing of the water lines.  Well, the evening has not gone as planned:
  • the kitchen faucets and toilet have running water; the bathroom vanity and shower have a little stream of water only.
  • the water pump does not seem to be working appropriately
  • the remote for the living room TV is not working; we aren't able to get cable TV to work
  • the microwave will only heat in increments of 59 seconds; anything longer requires another push of the start button.
  • found that my bike was no longer on the bike rack; did it fall off somewhere on the road or did someone take it?  (Hopefully there was not a traffic accident in Arkansas caused by a bike falling off a motorhome!)
  • the campground we ended up at is right on the freeway; lots of noise, which is offset by extremely nice washrooms.
So, tomorrow we're going to get up early, scope out other campgrounds (there are a couple of Army Corps of Engineer campgrounds close by), check out RV dealers who could possibly diagnose our plumbing problems, and then settle down and get some cleaning/organizing done.  Things will get better, right?

By the way, we've received several e-mails from friends and family who are following our blog - we love hearing from you and are so happy to be able to stay in touch!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Heading toward Warm (Friends and Temps)

Our day started off just a little cool, below freezing, but still much warmer than yesterday. There were only 4 RVs in the casino's campground, and we were the last one out the gate at 9:00 AM.  Everyone is in a hurry to get warm.

On the spur of the moment, Paige Googled the name of an old friend, Kathy, whom we haven't seen in a number of years.  Her business link came up right away, and we called to see if she had time to meet for lunch (at only an hour's notice).  She made the time for us, so we found a Flying J Truck Stop and parked the motorhome.  We took the toad into Kansas City and caught up on old times.  It was so great to see her!! Here are the 2 former roomates:

While in the Kansas City area, we saw water fountains with liquid water, some green grass, and at least 3 motorcycles so we know we are moving in the right direction.  At the time, our Droid showed 19 degrees back home, we saw 46 on our dashboard, and actually hit 50 before we stopped for the night.  With an earlier start, we were still able to stop and set up for the night before sunset.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

We really ARE .... ON the road

Sunday morning in Minneapolis started out at zero degrees.

We took our sweet time getting out of Pam's place (Thanks for the use of it, Pam).  By late morning we had finished emptying our house's refrigerator and freezer stuff into the motorhome, and were ready to load the motorcycle and bicycles.  That's when we encounter a slight delay.  It seems that the HydraLift's parts really don't want to pump fluid at low temperatures.  Without going into too much detail, let's just say they started working again after spending some time next to the Caterpillar diesel engine.  After all loading was complete, we used the air horns to say "goodbye" to our home of 24+ years, and pulled out at about 1:30.

While the greater Minneapolis area has had multiple snow emergencies this year, and is running out of places to put it, we saw bare ground just into Iowa and saw 32F briefly on our dashboard thermometer as we went through Des Moines about sunset.  We kept on going another hour or so, and have made up for our late start.  We are almost to the Missouri state line, near the town of Osceola Iowa.  It's still cold but the thermometer is heading up slightly.  Maybe tomorrow we can see 40F??