Sunday, December 3, 2017

A Day Off

We spent 2 long days of driving (Friday and Saturday) to get to the mountains of New Mexico.  We are recuperating by taking Sunday off at a park in Ruidoso Downs and wandering around Ruidoso (another nearby town).  They are between seasons here: lots of tourists in the summer for cool mountain air, and lots of skiers and snowboarders in the winter.  There is no snow yet, but it is coming!

Tomorrow we will get back on the road again, dropping down near White Sands and sightseeing around Silver City.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Departure to the South and West

Our time in Oklahoma has come to an end.  There is still a lot of need remaining and some Nomads will be here for another couple of weeks, before a Holiday break.  The OK Disaster program has also been extended into 2018 with many groups, including Nomads, coming back to continue the repairs to homes flooded about 18 months ago.  We had made a 4-week commitment which ended yesterday.  With only a couple of cool mornings, our weather has been great for both indoor and outdoor work. Even so, it seems like we are leaving just in time: a great weekend is forecast, but next week will have highs in the 40’s and overnight lows below freezing.

We are on our way to Paula and Tom’s place in Arizona.  Our first day on the road in awhile was a long one; zigzagging diagonally through SW Oklahoma and on to Lubbock TX.  We saw a lot of cotton fields being harvested, but not much else in the way of sightseeing.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Holiday Time

Two more weeks are now behind us, and we have one more before we leave for Arizona.  On our project near Moore, Oklahoma, house #3 needed 5 new windows and a couple of floor repairs.  Most of last week was spent at Tina and Willie’s place (house #4), where 4 bedrooms are getting all new drywall and floors, and the hallway will also be re-floored.  Most of the old drywall had already been removed, mostly.  In a mobile home, the drywall had been glued and stapled in place.  It took lots of time and effort to get the studs smooth enough for the new walls. This coming week we will have just 2 couples and the area project coordinator, so we expect to be there all week working mostly on the installation of laminate flooring and molding around the floors, doors, and ceiling.

Two weeks ago we came across a small diner in Oklahoma City that does a lot to support the less fortunate in their neighborhood, so we came back to support them over Thanksgiving: 800 servings were packaged Wednesday evening and we helped combine this food into meal packages on Thursday morning.  Volunteers were lined up to deliver these meals all along the I-35 corridor before noon.  Here are Bob and Barb in front of 300 pies:

After working at the restaurant, we had a late breakfast along with Jack and Barb, our fellow Nomads workers.  Then home to watch the Vikings beat Detroit!!  Our Thanksgiving dinner was provided by Cracker Barrel.  All in all, a nice Thanksgiving Day.

This evening (Saturday) the older downtown section of Moore held a family-friendly parade with over 30 floats, followed by a tree lighting ceremony and sleigh rides. We walked about 2 blocks to get to the parade route.  About 55 degrees out.  Not bad; but not very Christmas-y out. 


Friday, November 10, 2017

Resting and Recharging

Here we sit, just off of I-35 in Moore, OK about 800 freeway miles south of Minneapolis.  We arrived last Saturday, the 4th, after 3-1/2 days of driving.  We are parked behind the First United Methodist Church and have just completed the first of 4 weeks volunteering here.  Some major flooding about 18 months ago created a lot of damage which we are helping to repair.  We are joined with 3 other couples.  We have worked with the Drakes a couple of years ago in California, but the other 2 couples are new-to-us.  Morris and Karen were our leaders this past week, but they left for Florida this morning.  Next week’s leaders will be Jack and Barb, who arrived Wednesday afternoon and worked with us yesterday.

Most of us spent most of the week at Renee’s place; a house originally owned by her native American grandparents on land deeded to them almost 100 years ago.  Most of our work has involved flooring: some new sub-floor, some laminate, some peel-and-stick tiles, and painting.  A few of us also spent time at David’s double wide trailer where we are fastening metal skirting around the outside to help insulate and direct future water runoff around the building.  Both of these homes are about 25 miles southeast of town, so we pack a lunch and eat on site each day.  Another group of volunteers (not Nomads) are coming in this weekend and should finish at Renee’s place, and there is not quite a day’s work remaining at David’s so next week will bring us some new opportunities.

Most Nomads are retired folks who really appreciate our 3-day weekends.  After 4 days working, we need the next 3 to recuperate.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Escaping Winter Just in Time

When we last posted, we were emptying the cabin and loading the motorhome.  We picked a good day to do it, while the weather was still OK.  Most of that work was done a week ago Wednesday, saving Thursday morning for loading the motorcycle, parking the golf cart, and doing all of the final lockups.  As we got to the County road, the weather began to change to a cold mist and drizzle.  It stayed that way most of Thursday, but changed to heavy, wet snow overnight.  We spent the night parked on the street outside of Steve’s place in Duluth and woke up to about 8-10 inches of slippery white stuff on Friday morning.

Paige spent the morning with her mother, while Bob had a last-minute eye exam.  We both got good reports, then left for Brett’s place by mid-day.  The snow on the ground got lighter as we came south.  We parked on the street there for a few more days, helping with the granddaughters’ activities and getting to Paige’s final eye exam.  We also had a family gathering on Saturday night with Brett and Dave’s family (minus LeJoy who is moving her business, but we got to see her Sunday morning for breakfast).  We all had a great time eating lasagna, chocolate √©clair ring, and visiting.  Love to see everyone!!  Before leaving Minnesota, we took time to have lunch with the Dave and Nancy, who are now former fulltime RVers and former Nomads.  It was snowing lightly during and after lunch, but quit about an hour later.

The temperature climbed out of the 30s about the time we got to the Iowa border; first time in over a week for us.  Wednesday night we spent in an RV park, first time in a week we got to open all 4 slides.  Today, Thursday, our temperature display showed 60 as we came through Kansas City.  Warmth sure helps the disposition.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Closing and Packing

We are not leaving yet, but are getting ready to hit the road within the next week.  Fall has fallen (most of the leaves are down), winter has hinted it is near (overnight temps in the 30s and scattered frost), but we have just had some nice “Indian Summer” for the past week or so.  Joyce has finished her radiation treatments and completed an ortho-surgery and now has a couple of weeks of therapy ahead of her before she can return to assisted living.  She knows the routine, and is looking forward to getting back to her place.

Potential snow is in the long range weather forecast for this area, so it is time for us to pack up the motorhome and close up the cabin.  We will have a quick stop with the kids and grandkids next weekend and then head south.  We have scheduled ourselves to work with fellow Nomads near Oklahoma City for most of November before heading further west.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Back to the NorthWoods Once Again

The Customer Service group at Winnebago took efficient care of us once again.  Since we arrived with an appointment, most of our work was completed on Monday; a couple of “Add On” items and most of our tree damage, leaving only the duct-taped holes in the roof.  These were dried out Tuesday and Tuesday night, and finished up on Wednesday morning.  We were out of there by 1:30, in time to catch the early part of Minneapolis’s rush hour traffic.  They also had to take care of over 45 non-appointment "Drop Ins".

We spent the night on the street outside of Brett’s place, and took Olivia to a soccer practice that evening.  Her team is doing quite well this season.  We will miss Anna’s CrossCountry meet this weekend.

Since Paige will be taking her mother to radiation treatments on Friday, we returned to the cabin on Thursday.  Pam was with Joyce on Tuesday and Wednesday, so we met with her in Hinkley during her return.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Back to “Camp Winnebago”

After a great Annual Meeting of the Nomads at Amana Iowa we have come back to Forest City for repairs to our motorhome.  This will mostly be repairing the damage caused by a wind-blown tree.  (See our posting of June 16)  We have had the Canyon repaired earlier and now it is the Journey’s turn.  We arrived Saturday afternoon and found the parking areas somewhat crowded; and more motorhomes have arrived since then.  We haven’t ever seen this many units here for service.  We are glad to have a firm appointment.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Pack and Load…(repeat)…(repeat)…

Yes, the time has come to load up the motorhome and hit the road once again.  But only for a short time until we return to the lake.  We are only going as far as Duluth today, to help coordinate some of Joyce’s medical issues, to have our annual chassis maintenance done, and to do our annual water treatment.  After a few days there, we will head to Iowa for the Nomads group’s annual meeting next week.  The week after that we will get our tree damage repaired at the Winnebago factory before coming back to the lake for most of October.

As we get back on the road, it will be easier to remember to post here more often.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Enough Is Enough

Once again another month has gone by since posting here.

The “Retired Life” is great.  We work when we want and where we want.  Last week we volunteered again at Habitat for Humanity.  A new house is being built in Mountain Iron.  When we arrived, the outer walls were standing and sheeted, with rough openings for doors and window cut out.  The two of us and three other volunteers built and erected four interior walls for the bedrooms.  New construction is quite different from the repair work we have done with Nomads.  Next week a large traveling group of RVing volunteers will begin a 2-week project on this house.  We will come back again, after they leave, when there will be a need for more local help.

Next week we will leave the quiet lakeside life for a few days in the Twin Cities.  We both have a number of doctor and dental appointments, plus a day at the State Fair before returning to the lake.

Those of us from the Midwest have a reputation for being too pleasant and not speaking up often enough or loud enough.  The label “Minnesota Nice” comes to mind, but it also applies to many of us in at least a 7-state area.  The time has come for us to speak our minds.  On a recent morning TV program, the hosts asked about stress in their viewers’ lives.  Reflecting on this question, our main stresses come from the shameless functioning of our current administration in DC.  The “swamp” was not drained; it has only become more rancid during the past 6 months.  The current occupant of the Oval Office has shown his true colors as a despicable egotist who will never admit any of his many mistakes.  The “Leader of the Free World” is now someone in Europe.  Our president is not a leader, but is an embarrassment to this country, his party and himself – a truly “Ugly American”.

It is true that he has bought us together:

The new Marist Poll, which has a sampling margin of +/- 3.1 percent, found that 55 percent disapprove of Trump after seven months on the job“

This poll was completed before the recent Charlottesville demonstrations.

There, I have said it, and it feels good to get it out there

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Nearly a Month has gone by

Maybe summer has finally come to the Northwoods.  Since parking here at the lake more than 2 months ago, we have finally had a couple nice weather days, back to back.  An average day has been cool, wet, or windy or a combination of them.  There may have been 4 or 5 nice days scattered around, but not very many.

We had Stella, the Grand-dog with us for more than 2 weeks, while Brett, Jen, and the girls were on vacation.  The granddaughters took Stella’s place over the Fourth of July weekend and have since gone home to their varied summer activities.  David and his family were here as well over the Fourth, so that weekend was quite busy.  Dave took lots of beautiful pictures.  This is one of my favorites!

After the Fourth, Paula and Tomie came to Duluth for a quick visit to Grandma Joyce.  Pam and Ron came up from the Twin Cities and we had a nice dinner with Grandma to celebrate an early 88th birthday for her.  Brett’s girls were still here so it was a nice group and lots of fun.

Last Sunday was a nice day and we spent part of it on Steve and Deanna’s pontoon.  Very quiet as most of the “weekenders” had left the lake.  So nice that they invite us for these long rides!

The last week has been pretty quiet.  The pickup has been repaired (mostly) from the storm damage.  We haven’t yet received an estimate to repair the motorhome; maybe we’ll have it soon.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Well, This is Different!!

After all these years in the northwoods, storms have only caused a few power outages, but no real damage to our personal property.  All that changed Tuesday afternoon.

We had strong winds off the lake, and one weak tree.  It came down onto both the Winnebago and the pickup.  We have policies for both vehicles with the same carrier and they will consider it to be one “incident” so we shouldn’t have to pay two deductibles.  We have spoken to a claims person by phone, and are waiting for a personal visit to be scheduled soon.

We will see how all this turns out.

Down the road, Duluth is now filling up with runners and their families and fans.  This is the weekend of Grandma’s Marathon, when tens of thousands of people show up to run along the shores of Lake Superior.  We will be volunteering to help with route control during the William A. Irvin 5k support event, just like we did last year.  At least it will take our minds off insurance, deductibles, and body shops.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Busy Days

Well, summer has finally come to northern Minnesota.  Eighty degrees is hot up here.  We have stayed busy, both here and in the Twin Cities area.  Earlier this month we traveled to Brett’s house for nearly a week.  Saturday, the 3rd, was busy with going to an afternoon ballgame where Leah (granddaughter of Paige’s sister) was playing.

All the kids and their families had a good time in the sunshine.  Later that day we took David’s family out to dinner in north Minneapolis, and then to an off-Broadway play at the Minsky theater.  Steve’s son, Tom, was performing in “Spandex, the Musical”.  We just learned that his next performance will be next month at the Ordway in “Jesus Christ, Superstar” (quite the actor!).

On Sunday we bought Brett’s older BMW R1100RT, very similar to the one we used to have.  On Monday he (on his newer RT) and I rode to a number of firehouses to take photos so he can qualify for a Red Knights award.  Paige will feel more comfortable on the larger BMW, so our V-Strom is available (any interested buyers?).

Paige had 4 doctor appointments between Monday to Wednesday.  So good to get those taken care of!

We got to see a number of Olivia’s soccer games and one practice.  They hadn’t won a game all season, until the last one when they buried the other team by 5 to 0.  Way to Go Girls!!

Wednesday was also Olivia’s graduation from elementary school. 
Next year, her 6th grade will be in Middle School.  After her 2-hour ceremony, we came back to the cabin late in the day.  Thursday was reserved for unloading and unpacking. 

Friday we split the cost of the rental of a wood splitter with our neighbors and spent most of the day splitting their pile, ours, and Steve’s.  As if that weren’t enough labor, we mowed Steve and Deanna’s lawn that evening.  They are both recovering: he from a broken wrist, and she from appendicitis. 

The grandkids will be coming up here in a couple of weeks, but we will have our split wood all stacked before they arrive.

Monday, May 29, 2017

At the Lake

When we posted last, we were planning to move the motorhome to our cabin on the Whiteface Reservoir.  We traveled on that Thursday, the day before the opening of fishing season.  Traffic was no problem and the drive was stress free. 

Once here, we took a little time to rake our parking area and unload the motorcycle before backing in and leveling.  Since then we have filled our days with mundane tasks like a complete raking of the lawn, floating the swimming raft, putting out the dock, and planting flowers.  All of these activities were spread over 2 weeks because the weather has been miserable: frequent showers, cloudy skies, and brisk winds mostly off the lake.  We have made a couple of walks around the peninsula, and chatted with a few of the neighbors and played cards a couple of times with Paige’s cousin Steve and his wife Deanna. 
On the 20th, Aerostich held an open house at its Duluth Headquarters.  This is the manufacturer of the well known motorcycle riding suit and a mail order supplier of many other motorcycle accessories.  We went there by truck since the temps were in the lower 40’s but many customers were hardy (?) enough to ride there.
One of their doorprizes was a booklet called “Zero below zero” which was a diary of the management and staff of Aerostich who ran an experiment with a Zero-brand electric motorcycle.  They took turns commuting to and from work all winter without parking the parking it indoors at all.  Reading of their experiences made that day’s temperatures seem balmy.

On one of the nicer days last week, we got a text message from Brett telling us he was on his way to the Boundary Waters on a search and rescue mission in the Minnesota State Patrol’s helicopter.  They passed nearby on their way to Ely, and then to Sawbill Lake, but they were too far east of us to be seen or heard.  Their mission was successful and, on their return to St Paul, they had time for a quick fly-by and wave.
Lucky for them that it was probably the best weather for flying during the entire week.

More recently there was one other nice-weather day just before the Memorial Day weekend, when neither jacket nor rain coat was needed.  We saw that many of our neighbors had lots of visitors for the weekend because of the cars and trucks parking nearby, but the lake and roads weren’t crowded and it was really pretty quiet up here.  We had 2 guests: David and Brayden came here late on Friday and spent Saturday hiking along the North Shore and getting some photographs at a couple of state parks.  Sunday we tried for another state park at Calumet but found that it is open Fridays and Saturdays only.  They left early on Monday to have time to photograph the St Louis River and its rapids in Jay Cooke state park.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Yet another Week (not Quite As Quiet)

When we posted last, we were enjoying Winnebago’s hospitality in Iowa.  We left there on Wednesday morning for a quick trip to Minnesota and Dakota County’s Lebanon Hills park.  They had just opened the campground for the season and were able to get us in for an extra 2 days prior to our weekend reservation.

Thursday we had lunch with the Hilmos, the fellow Nomads who also are originally from Minnesota and we have known for years, but have yet to work with them.  Our plans to volunteer together last fall in Missouri fell through when we were delayed in Duluth.  We last saw them in Texas early in November, before they left for Florida.  They have made the decision to “hang up the keys” and end their full-timing lifestyle after 17 years on the road.  We wish them well as they take on this more traditional lifestyle, and will continue to keep in contact, especially during the winter when we will be somewhere warm.

On Friday, David and Brayden came to the site next to us for the weekend.  We had a pleasant time around the campfire that evening.

On Saturday, Bob’s family held its annual reunion at a pizza parlor in Mankato.  Eleven of the 16 possible cousins were there along with quite a few spouses and children and Aunt Marion, the only surviving Dakins sister.  It was good to catch up with them, without the gathering being a wedding or funeral.

Sunday we moved to the street in front of Brett’s house for a few days.   We will catch up with him and his family, and catch some of the girls’ sports while we are here.  We are also taking the time to do tons of laundry, cleaning the motorhome, and catching up with friends. 

This weekend is Minnesota’s opening weekend of fishing season, so the highways will become choked with traffic by noon on Friday.  We will be gone before then as we expect to be parked at the lake by Thursday afternoon.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Another Quiet Week

This time in Iowa.  First came a few days in Spirit Lake, then in Forest City.  While on our way to our appointment at Winnebago’s Factory Service, the Great Lakes of Iowa called out for a pleasant stop.  Northern Iowa only has a few good-sized lakes, but Okoboji and Spirit are two of the largest and are close to each other.  This area is known, locally, for fishing and boating and a lot of vacationing in the summer, but is very quiet this time of year.

We have been catching up on a lot of reading while also catching up to winter weather.  We are just now starting to see the sun for the first time in over a week, and heavy coats are finally being replaced with lighter jackets.

While in Sioux Falls last week, we spent some time at a Barnes and Noble store, getting ideas for future reading.  One that caught Bob’s attention was “38 Nooses”, subtitled “Lincoln, Little Crow, and the beginning of the Frontier’s End”.  It is a history book dealing with the Sioux Uprising that took place in southern Minnesota during the Civil War.  It ended with the largest mass execution in US history with 38 Indians being hung in Mankato Minnesota at the same time.  Abraham Lincoln personally decided to spare the lives of an additional 265 condemned prisoners.  We now have an electronic copy of this book.

Before leaving Spirit Lake, we found a historical marker at site of the Spirit Lake Massacre Monument in nearby Arnolds Park.  This monument opened as one of Iowas’s first tourist attractions and marks the location of an earlier Indian uprising.  Here 36 settlers were initially slain and 4 prisoners taken captive (only 2 survived).  More history can be found at


We arrived in Forest City on Saturday for our Monday appointment.  Their customer lounge is a spacious and comfortable to wait while repairs are being done.  Pets are also welcome and we met Marley, who loves to be petted by everyone.  He waits on his back until the next person comes to pet him.

A couple of minor repairs were taken care of by Tuesday morning and we are ready to leave.  But first we have to get to Mitchel’s Bar and Grill for their Tuesday night, all-you-can-eat chicken and ribs.  This is a regular stop for us whenever we are near the Winnebago plant.  We are going there with Marley’s owners soon.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

A Pleasant Time in Sioux Falls

We have spent a whole week seeing the sights of Sioux Falls, beginning with the river and waterfalls that give the town its name.


We have also wandered around downtown and tried a couple of local restaurants, including Bob’s BBQ which was a really good little hole in the wall.


Normally, our mail is collected here and forwarded to us twice per month, but this week we picked it up in person at Dakota Post’s new offices.

We have also seen a number of current movies, one in a sit-down theater (Beauty and the Beast) and two others on our home theater (Sully and La La Land).

It was a relaxing week there and now the relaxation continues as we move east.  We have plenty of time to take state highways slow and easy.  We are now in Iowa’s “Great Lakes” area, a major tourist area in the summer near Spirit Lake and Lake Okoboji.  It is not crowded at this time of year, but we can see how it will be busy later.  We took a ride around the lake and saw some huge, beautiful homes.  It was a real surprise to see how popular this area is.

We are heading slowly toward the Winnebago plant in Forest City IA for a quick fix or two next week.  When done there, we will continue north to see the kids and grandkids in the Minneapolis area for a few days, and try to get to Joyce’s place in Duluth before the opening of fishing season on May 13.

The local weather forecasts are now including some frost warnings.  Are we coming north too soon?

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

In Sioux Falls for Awhile

After a week volunteering at Oak Park Retreat Center we continued our trip north, following the pollen and dandelions as spring led the way.  From Perkins, Oklahoma to Bob’s sister’s farm in southern Nebraska, it is an easy 2-day drive.  Friday, the 14th, we had a very strong tailwind that blew us north into Kansas.  We stopped for the night at a Corps of Engineers park on the Marion Reservoir near Marion, Kansas.  The only problem is that the wind didn’t stop, but kept on blowing at 30 to 40 mph all night long; so intense that we kept our living room slides in all night.

Saturday the wind was not as strong, but continued from the south and helped us roll into Nebraska.  When we stopped here last year the weather was very stormy, but this year was quite nice.  We attended Easter services with Bill and Mary and had Sunday dinner with them as well. 

After a pleasant Monday of laundry and shopping with Mary, we hit the road again, this time to Sioux Falls.  This city is officially our legal home, so we plan to spend some time here and get to know it better.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Art Deco

Our wandering around northern Oklahoma brought us to Tulsa where the tourism brochure suggested seeing a church on South Boston Avenue near downtown.  The Methodist church here was built in 1929 in the Art Deco style and is quite unique.  So much so that has also been designated to be a National Historic Landmark.

Some details can be found at

We found it on Saturday and chose to attend services there on Sunday.  It is quite a building, but a choir of about 50 youth was even more impressive.

Now, after a whole week off, we found the possibility of boredom setting in, so we have gone back to work.  The Oak Park Retreat center in Perkins Oklahoma had been slowly going to pieces for many years, until a new owner (a local Methodist Church) bought it about this time last year.  They had a group of Nomads work here last fall, and some of them told us that Oak Park will have lots of work available for quite some time.  We contacted the minister and asked if they could use some help for 4 days this week.  He was very excited to have the offer of help.  We are doing our first “Drop In” project here this week. 

We met with Larry, who is our contact at the retreat center, on Sunday.  He asked us to unpack 250 new folding chairs and paint some of the rooms at the center during our 4 days here.  Their rooms look a lot like hotel rooms with a bedroom and bathroom/shower.  We’ve been able to do one room & bath per day with a goal of getting 4 rooms done. 
They are very grateful and we’re so grateful we can help out.  Pastor Max had us over for dinner on Monday night and then took us out for lunch on Wednesday.  We’ll be able to attend his church for Maunday Thursday services which we’re looking forward to.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Getting our Kicks on Route 66

We are taking that time off mentioned a couple of days ago, just not where we had in mind.  The first Corps of Engineers campground that we had planned didn’t work out.  It was too remote and provided neither TV nor cell phone/internet service so we didn’t check in.  Instead we took a round-about route to stop for 3 nights in Eufaula.  Tuesday we moved again, a little farther north, to Big Cabin which is a small town near what was Route 66.

Although old US Route 66 went from Chicago to Los Angeles, it seems that Arizona and Oklahoma do the most for tourists to help remember it.  We have toured parts of it in California, Arizona and New Mexico in the past.  Today we went to Miami Oklahoma, in the very corner of the state, to see Waylan’s Ku-Ku Burger shop.
This was part of a fast-food chain in the 1960’s and is still operating today.  While in town we also spent some time at a couple of other tourist places: the Coleman Theater and the Vintage Iron Motorcycle Museum.

On our way back to Big Cabin we also saw the restored 1930’s vintage DX service station in Afton.

Later this week we will see a few other tourist attractions near here before doing some shopping in Tulsa. 

In the meantime we are now watching CBS for the FIRST time all year!  We have been in a number of small towns in both Texas and Oklahoma where there were either NO or very limited TV signals.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Done at Elmore City

Oklahoma is a tough place to live.  We know it is located in “Tornado Alley” but they also have floods, ice storms, and wildfires that can all do a lot of damage.  They have so many of these natural disasters, and so frequently, that the residents have created a lot of helpful organizations to assist their neighbors. 

In our previous posting, we mentioned some of the flooding here last summer.  Some more details can be seen at

The statewide conference of Methodist churches has their own disaster support group (see ) complete with their own fulltime staff, trucks, and trailers to work with the local area victims and to keep us volunteers supplied with some tools and most materials.  They have been working in a number of towns near here since the flooding happened, and the Nomads have been here since mid-February.  Our team was made up of couples from Michigan, Missouri, Tennessee, as well as Oklahoma, most of whom we had not worked with in the past.  Our family of friends continues to grow.  We completed the last 2 homes in the town of Mayville.  Our team leaders, Dennis and Nancy, have their own blog and posted a lot of pictures of the work we’ve accomplished (see ).  Beginning next week, the Nomads will be parking at the county fairgrounds in Lawton and continue working there for another 5 weeks.

We will not be going to Lawton.  Instead we are going to take some time off to rest and recuperate.  While on Nomads projects, we work hard.  The last 2 days of this project, both of us spent most of the time on our hands and knees, laying carpeting.  After working projects since November, we welcome some time off!  We have scheduled a couple of weeks at different Corps of Engineers campgrounds, still in Oklahoma.  We will move slowly northward, following the pollen and dandelions.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Happy Pi (3.14….) Day from Oklahoma

Our weekend in Texas’ Hill Country was quite good.  In early January, we had spent a week in the southern part of it and heard of the Frio Canyon Motorcycle Shop and its Bent Rim Grill in Leakey, TX.  We got a souvenir T-shirt there but the grill was closed for remodeling.  The shirt advertised the “Three Twisted Sisters” which are nearby county roads #335, #336, and #337 and are a motorcyclist’s delight.  At that time, we only rode one of them, so Saturday we went back and rode all three, plus had lunch at the re-opened Bent Rim Grill.  It was a cool, cloudy day with a couple of very light showers in the morning, but the weather turned very nice by the time we got back to the RV park.  Good thing we rode Saturday because Sunday was much colder. 

We chose that day to head north.  After spending over 4 months in Texas (except for the week of Christmas) it was time to depart.  We had originally planned to stop in northern Texas but had made good time so we kept going all the way into Oklahoma which is where we will stay for the next 3 weeks.  Four hundred miles is more than I’d like to put on in a day with the motorhome but we did that (and a little more) arriving just before 6:00 PM.

We had thought that our next project would be repairing tornado damage, but instead learned that this area was hit with massive rainstorms in June of last year.  We are parked in a vacant lot between a caf√© and a food store (both very small) because the lot has electricity, water, and sewer hookups for us.  We will be working on a home in the town of Maysville, which is north of us.

According to the National Weather Service, this area was hit with about 8” of rain flooding homes and streets, plus washing out some bridges.  For more details, see .  Mr. Stevens had bought a home in Maysville some time ago, which his son now lives in.  Mr. Stevens had the garage converted into a small 2-story apartment for his use upon retirement.  We heard that he had about 3 feet of water in his lower level before the rains stopped and the water went down.

Earlier repair teams had completed the demolition, and re-framing, and had hung most of the new drywall.  We will be completing his home with new walls, painting, cabinets and vanities, and a new floor.  Once this home is done, there are more awaiting.  Nomads will be working here through all of April and into the first week of May.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Back to the Hills

We completed our month long volunteer commitment at the Escapees Care Center on 2/28, took a couple days to organize, and then headed out to our next project.  We enjoyed our time at Care and met lots of very interesting senior citizens and staff at the center.  Definitely not the physical work of the Nomads projects.

We have had a good time this past week, helping out a Nomads group at a Methodist Church in Taft TX.  We have known the leaders, Dave and Sally, for over 5 years and have worked together a couple of times.  They had a lot of work to do and a small team so we helped during their third week In Taft.  This is a small town not far from Corpus Christi.  A number of churches in this area work together for the community’s common good.  Nomads teams have been here many times and are well supported.  The local Kiwanis Club has provided lunch for the group every Thursday.  We met some very interesting people at the lunch this Thursday.  We sat by the Justice of the Peace from Taft and learned about her job.  She serves as the local “judge” who sets bail and sentences for traffic violations and petty crimes.  We also met the woman who serves as the Housing Authority.  She told us of her background as a member of a family of migrant workers.  They traveled in a vehicle from Texas north picking crops.  She has fond memories of being in Minnesota (but can’t remember what city) where a group of teenagers worked with the children.  That’s where she learned all about multiplication and the tables.  She also had her parents with her at the Kiwanis lunch.  Her father is a retired fire fighter now.  Her sister just retired from the National Park Service.  Very different than their migrant working days!

The Nomads team had worked on a couple of homes around town as well as 2 churches before we arrived.  We helped with re-glazing some windows and re-painting a fellowship hall at the Methodist church.  A retired vet and his wife hosted a fish fry dinner at their place on the Gulf of Mexico and the Presbyterian pastor and his wife hosted a BBQ at their home.  We were well fed, as usual!

Now that the project is complete we have relocated to the western edge of Texas’ Hill Country for some motorcycling in the hills tomorrow.  We won’t have a long break as there is a Nomads Disaster Recovery Project in Oklahoma that needs help so we’re heading there to start work on Tuesday for 3 weeks.  Tornados damaged many homes there last year and we will help with rebuilding.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Time Flys Quickly

Once again, the month has flown by so fast.  Maybe our 3-day rotation has something to do with it.  The “On-Call” day starts 7 AM when we get the “book” from yesterday’s On-Call team.  It lasts until we close and lock the building at 9 PM, unless an emergency comes up and we take the after-hours call (but that hasn’t occurred overnight this month).  Our next day makes us available to drive residents to their appointments or shopping.  If no trips are scheduled, this can be a light duty day of helping in the kitchen, but there could just as easily be 4 trips scheduled.  Our 3rd day we are officially “Off Duty” so we have scheduled some fieldtrips for shopping and sightseeing.  On our own we have been to Galveston, Trader Joe’s in The Woodlands, a plant tour of Foretravel’s RV manufacturing plant in Nacogdoches, and the Johnson Space Center museum in Houston.  We have also gone with the residents on field trips out to dinner and to an ice cream parlor. 

Inside a $1M motorhome

Saturn rocket

Shuttle ready for delivery

Ice Cream shop
We have also had company:  Denny (Bob’s brother) and his wife Dianne took a vacation from Minnesota’s winter weather to see lots of Texas and passed through here for a couple of days.  We took them to Florida’s, which is a local “down home”-style restaurant.  It’s always so good to see family!!
Dinner is Ready
Even this posting took 2 days to create – it is hard to stay focused sometimes.  Tomorrow will be the last day of the month, and also our last working day.  We will be “on call” once again so it will be a long day.  To make up for that, we have permission to stay for an extra day and night on the first to do some last minute laundry and packing.  Then we will depart on the second to return south a bit.  We have heard from some Nomads who are now working near Corpus Christi that they have more work than people so we plan to help them out next week, which is their third week on site.
Our past month as volunteer workers at CARE has been less physical, and more social.  Most of these active retired RVers are fun to be around.  We’ll miss a lot of the folks here and they want us to come back again next year, but we still like to see different places and probably will go west next year.  Who knows, maybe in a few years we’ll be back.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

First Week as CareGivers

After a couple of days “shadowing” other volunteers, we have now completed 2+ cycles of 2 days ON and 1 day OFF.  The other 2 teams of volunteers are experienced, having worked here in the past as well as during last month. 

The first day of our cycle starts with opening the building (lights ON and doors unlocked) and ends with closing the building 14 hours later.  In between we answer phones and get the count of meals the kitchen staff needs to provide.  All residents can get around on their own and are expected to contact us by 10AM with their needs for meals.  If they don’t call us, we call them.  Here is a typical meal-time scene:

The second day of the cycle has us driving residents to shopping, hairdressers, or doctors as needed.  The CARE Center provides a small fleet of vehicles for these trips.

The third day we have off for laundry, sightseeing, or other personal activities.  Bob has taken the hydraulic cylinders off of our HydraLift and UPS’ed them back to California to be rebuilt.  We found a UPS Store in nearby Conroe and later went sightseeing in The Woodlands, a planned community this side of Houston.  We thought about going into Houston to play like tourists, but there still might be too much Super Bowl traffic for awhile; we will go there later in the month.

The weather has been great lately: lows in the 60s and highs in the 80’s, plus we’ve had some great sunsets:

Sunday, January 29, 2017

About to become CAREgivers

Our 3 weeks in Falfurrias is now complete.  Twelve Nomads worked on houses of two residents.  Most worked on Mary and Robert’s house in the country, east of town.  It had been in Robert’s family for many generations, and had also been abandoned for some time.  It had settled unevenly, so the floors were wavy, the siding needed replacement as well as a number of windows.  It had been built before electricity was available, so the main supply box was mounted on the outside and most circuits were routed around the outside as well.  Since the old siding was coming off, we took the time to route new circuits inside of the walls.

The two of us worked in town on Nellie’s house and three other Nomads came by to assist us at different times.  Our main jobs were to replace the slats on the side of her carport with new plastic lattice, re-roof a metal shed in the back yard, repair an exterior door on the laundry area, and replace many soffits which had begun to rot away.

As mentioned in the prior posting, Stel took lots of photos of the two buildings and all of our activities, and posted them to her blog.  Click on that link to see some of our results.

We finished work on Thursday and departed town on Friday morning.  Friday night was spent at Pinchers RV in El Campo, TX.  This place was selected for a couple of reasons:

-        it was about halfway to our next stop.

-        it is fairly new, with good reviews on

-        there is a seafood restaurant right next door, and it was very good! (ever tried “crawfish mashed potatoes”?)

Saturday morning we drove north through Houston, and its very slow construction areas to Rainbows End, the Escapees park about an hour north, in Livingston Texas.  We will be volunteering at the club’s CARE center for the month of February.  CARE stands for Continuing Assistance for Retired Escapees and its mission is:

“…to provide a safe haven with professional assistance at affordable prices for members whose travels are permanently ended because of age or temporarily interrupted because of health problems.”  It is a seniors’ assisted living complex for Escapee members.

We will be assisting with:

“…driving resident to appointments, opening and closing the CARE Center building, monitoring the phone at night, and some light cleaning”

Sunday and Monday we are “shadowing” one of the couples who volunteered for January, so that we can start right in on Wednesday.  Three teams are rotating through 2 days ON, and one day OFF in exchange for free camping and three meals per day.  Many of the volunteers come back year after year.  We are looking forward to helping here.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Still Workin'

Our second week at Falfurrias is complete.  See Stel’s blog (a link should now be on the right side of this page) for more details and photos.  We have had another 3-day weekend to recuperate and are now ready to start our final week.  Most of our group stayed with re-siding the original house where we all worked during the first week.  Last week, three of us went to a second home where we are replacing a lot of rotten fascia, siding a carport with vinyl lattice, and are about to re-roof a yard shed with corrugated metal sheets.

We had a nice ice cream social evening on Tuesday evening.  We each brought ingredients for an ice cream sundae – yum!  We had a good time! 

On our Friday day off, we took the advice of a couple of “Winter-Texans” at church and went to a seafood restaurant on Baffin Bay which drains into the Gulf of Mexico nearby.  The restaurant was known for their “fish ribs” which we had not heard of before.  Two of our group ordered this, but it will likely be a “once in a lifetime” experience (there is not much meat there and a lot of effort to get it off the ribs).

Over the weekend, four of us drove about an hour and a half south to the Rio Grande valley for a luncheon at the Methodist church in Mercedes, Texas.  We expected to know at least one other couple there, but actually knew 2 and met another couple who are originally from Duluth, as well.

After the luncheon, we went sightseeing toward the east, to the spring-break party area of South Padre Island.  All of the condo and hotel development is on the southern end, but most of the barrier island is undeveloped.

Today we have endured lots of wind as a front came through the area.  It was a good day to stay indoors and be glad we are not working with sheets of roofing or siding.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Another Part of Texas

Falfurrias Texas is a little more “city-fied” than Ozona: the local Walmart is only 36 miles away, in Kingsville.  It is, however, another small town with no TV service – this lack of electronic entertainment is getting to be way too common.

We arrived here on Saturday, the 7th, and met the rest of the team, most of whom we have worked with in the past.  Four of the six couples have had some connection to Minnesota (either current or former residents).  All week we have been working on the house of Robert and Mary, longtime members of the local congregation, and Mary has prepared lunch for all of us on most days.  For more detail and photos see   Next week most of the group will remain there while 3 of us will be starting on another house.

On our day off, Friday, we took a sightseeing drive to Aransas Pass and took the free ferry to Port Aransas on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico.  After a lunch of fresh seafood  (shrimp-rice bowl and fried oyster Po-Boy sandwich) we continued south to North Padre Island and the National Seashore before returning to the mainland at Corpus Christi.  We found a seafood market, so there was more fresh shrimp for Saturday’s supper.

After some very cold weather in Bandera, where our water pipes froze, we have encountered much warmer weather here in Falfurrias.  Temps have been in the low 80’s but the downside has been the strong winds.  Most of the time the winds have been about 20 mph with lots of blowing sand.  We’re hoping to see those winds subside soon.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

More “Tourist Time”

We ended 2016 by relocating the motorhome back to Quest Ranch, outside of Canyon Lake Texas, for about 2 weeks.  Part of that time was spent just relaxing, but we also got in a trip back to Minnesota for Christmas.  Bob found a “park and fly” package through a motel chain that provided us with 2 nights in a motel (prior to departure and after returning) plus a week’s free parking while we were gone.  The timing worked out well: after a long drive to Dallas, we had a nice dinner and an early bedtime.  We caught the first airport shuttle (5 AM) next morning for an early departure.  Brett picked us up and got us to his place by noon.  His girls were still in school for their last day before Christmas holiday.

                                              Thanks to Jen for taking this photo.
Dave and his family came to Brett’s place for Christmas Eve, and we went to Dave’s place on Christmas Day which was a very blustery day and resulted in a shortened visit – bummer!  We also had a day-trip to Duluth on Tuesday of that week to see Joyce.

We spent time at Brett’s working on jigsaw puzzles.  Anna challenged us by finding a bag which held 2 different 500-piece puzzles.  We managed to separate the pieces and completed both puzzles – something Paige never thought we could accomplish! 

Paige, Olivia, and her friend made a batch of lefse.

On Thursday we had a last day with the family and a late return to Texas, arriving at our motel after midnight, and returning to our motorhome on Friday.

Saturday, New Year’s Eve, we relocated to a private RV park about 90 miles west, in Bandera TX.  Our Nomads friends, Everett and Elizabeth, spend the winter months near here and we planned to meet up with them.  They took us to Cowboy Church on Sunday.  That was a fun and interesting experience.  The music was a country western group.  They’ve also taken us to see some beautiful scenery and historic areas including LBJ’s ranch (the Texas White House) and his boyhood home.  We’ve learned a lot about LBJ and Lady Bird.

On Monday and Tuesday the weather was sunny and in the 70’s so we had a great opportunity to go motorcycling in the Hill Country.  We had great rides both days. 

The weather is going to get colder on Friday (highs in the 40’s).  We’re leaving for Falfurrias Texas on Saturday morning and will be spending 3 weeks down there on a community service project.