Sunday, January 23, 2011

Yesterday Terry wanted to drive down to the coast. He was intrigued by the towns of Freeport and Surfside, so we left around mid-morning. It was chilly outside, but the sun was bright. It was about 45 miles down there and we crossed a couple bridges and the intercoastal waterway. It wasn't long before we could see the Gulf and spotted a few oil rigs out in the distance. Surfside and Surfside Beach were hit with Hurricane Ike and many of the cabins were destroyed. We could not get onto the beach at the main access because they are moving a lot of sand around rebuilding the beach. That was really the only construction of any type that we saw. The grasses still looked dead from the seawater that would have covered it during and after the Hurricane. There were obviously some cabins that were uninhabitable, but the area looked like it had been cleaned up based on other “post hurricane” areas we have seen.

There was an inlet with access to the intercoastal and there were jettys on both sides. We parked in the parking lot and walked out to the end. It was chilly and there was some wind, but we made it out to the end. We estimated the walk at close to a half mile. It was a loooooong jetty. There were people fishing along the way and we saw one man bring in a sheephead. I scanned the waters to see if there were any dolphins in the area and I did spot one. He was close to the other side, but I saw him several times. We could see some RV's on the other side in what appeared to be a park, but we weren't sure how to get there.

Surfside is NOT a tourist trap. There is no McDonald's, Hooters, or Krogers in the area. It is rather unspoiled that way. It looks like a community of rentals waiting on tenants who come just to enjoy the peace and solitude of unspoiled sunrises and sunsets. There were no high rises, a couple restaurants recently reopened and very few people. We stopped for lunch at “Kitty's Purple Cow” which was painted. . . you guessed it. . . PURPLE! It was just a short order place, but the food was adequate and we enjoyed the atmosphere.

After lunch, we drove back across the bridge and took another turn. Terry was looking for the Quintana Park and we did eventually find it. It actually is the park we saw from across the jetty! It is a very nice RV park with full hookups. At $27 a day, it is more than we like to spend, but it has nice showers, nice level sites, many of them pull-throughs, and a very nice beach area. We thought if we get antsy and want a break during Terry's treatment, we might come down here for a weekend once the weather warms up a bit.

We were on our way back up toward Houston when we heard a lot of noise. A jacked-up truck was passing us and we thought it was his muffler set up, etc. Ho ho. Not so. It was our rear driver's side tire. The sidewall had blown out. It was super strange because we had not heard a pop or feel anything. . . just what we thought was road noise. Terry immediately pulled over and the tire was smoking by that time. Ugh. We have road service, but figured we could have it changed by the time they got to us, so we dug out the jack and changed it ourselves. The spare is quite old and probably never been used, so we plugged in the nearest Walmart supercenter into our GPS and we were off. It was only four miles down the road and we didn't have to wait long. They had our tires in stock and put a new one on and remounted our spare up underneath. It is the first time we have had to change a tire on the Sport Trac. We do have the Pressure Pro's on the Sport Trac and we may have saved the tire if we had known what was happening, but we don't keep the monitor in the truck. I think we will from now on.

Till next time. . .


Pay the Trolls, er. . . Tolls!

Things have been moving along well here in Houston. We are both well and enjoying the park here. It is a beautiful park and most of the people here are getting treatment at one of the Houston hospitals. We met a woman the other day who has had numerous types of cancer and is currently undergoing chemo for breast cancer that has returned. Her treatment had been delayed because of a massive staff infection she got from her surgery in December. She has a cute little miniature Schnauzer named Pebbles and I offered to walk the dog if she was unable to do it. Since her chemo treatments have just started, she is not feeling too many side effects just yet. We have checked on her to see how she is doing and to see if we can help, but so far she is doing well.

The other day we headed down south and decided to take the Fort Bend tollway since there is normally very little traffic on it or any of the tollways here. We entered the tollway off of 90 and the sign said, “Toll Required.” No problem because we planned for that. However, when we got to the first “gate,” it was unmanned and required $1.50 in COINS. So we fished around in the console and came up with the correct amount. As Terry was about to put the money in the machine, I noticed that the gate was already up and the digital readout on the machine said, “Lane Closed.” Huh? There was no exit and no way to leave the tollway, so we went on through. At the next gate, all the pay lanes were blocked off and the only way to proceed was through the “EZ Tag” lanes. So again we went through. We only had a short distance to go, so we continued on our way. When we arrived at our destination, we inquired about the tollway. The store employees said, “Oh that's EZ Tag ONLY!” Hmmm. Well it didn't say that. They also said, “You WILL get a ticket in the mail.” We had already figured that, but how is anyone not familiar with the area supposed to know?

This worried Terry terribly, so he researched it on the internet. The next day we drove to an “EZ Tag” store. We didn't intend to buy one because we didn't figure we would use it that much and it is not transferable to other vehicles like a transponder. The ladies there were very helpful and looked up our car tag number. Nothing showed up yet, but she gave us a phone number to call the next day and said they would allow us to pay the tolls with a credit card and there would be no fine to pay. The invoices are not generated until the third offense anyway. So the next day we called and paid our toll of $1.50. The employee was surprised when we told her there was no signage indicating “EZ Tag Only” but I have pictures to prove it. There are actually two entrances close together which have no such signage. So, be forewarned!

Till next time. . .


Friday, January 14, 2011

We have a date!

November 11, 2011

That is the wedding date of son Brandon and his lovely fiancee Megan! It will be at the Rockledge Country Club in Florida. Wha Hoo!!!! Brandon has waited a long time to tie the knot. . . he will be 30 for the big event! Congratulations to you both. We are looking forward to the celebration of the start of your lives together.

Here in Houston, we have escaped the really bad weather that is affecting most of the nation. We have had some cool weather and the campground has shut the water off a couple times, but at no time did the temps actually dip below freezing. A lot of people have left the park here, but I think some were just visiting the area. Eighty percent of the residents here are being treated at one of the hospitals in the area. . . most being at the MD Anderson Cancer Center.

We have been staying inside with the colder weather. Terry doesn't like to get out although his new ICD means he can breathe a lot better in cold weather because his heart function is improved. But we have inside things to do, so we are content. I have actually spent this week getting our tax stuff ready. That is a record for me. We don't even have any of our W-2's or anything else, so I cannot send them in, but it feels good to have the paperwork all finished and ready to go to our tax person. By the way, I have a really great tax person at the H.R. Block where we used to live in Indiana. She does a great job for us. I can't believe I have the stuff all ready to go! Hah! I had to drag out my other computer. A year ago the screen went bad on it and we haven't gotten around to ordering a new one for it. We plan to do that and have Brandon install it. He used to work at a computer shop (one college summer) and that is what he did. . . maintenance on laptops. So, for now, I have a small LCD monitor I hook up to it and it works great, but it is a lot more effort to set up. I set up my workstation in the motorhome and I am very comfortable. I can leave my work out and the main dining table can still be used for meals.

Once I finish putting the final touches on the financial stuff, I will pack that computer back up and get out the sewing machine. I have two projects that need completing. I took a cushion from Brandon's couch that their one foster dog chewed up and I found some complementary material to make a cushion for it. I was able to buy the supplies on the road, but haven't made the cushion yet, so that is next on the list. I need to get that done and sent off so we can clear out that space for something else. After that, I plan on finishing the quilt on the bed. I only started that two years ago and it is not finished yet. I really am ashamed of myself as it probably isn't but about a week's worth of work on it to go yet. I actually have the quilt on the bed. I am making it in two parts, so I put the finished part on the bed so I would become motivated to finish it. So I am getting there, I think. It is a rag quilt, and so it can easily be done in stages.

We are supposed to hear early next week if Terry will start the next stage in his treatment. Now they are checking to see if his insurance will pay for the treatment he wants and if so, we are good to go. It has always paid for the specific treatment in the past, but with medical insurance changing so much, it has to be reviewed.

We did hear from our new friends we met here a few weeks ago. They will be back the middle of February and I am sure we will still be here. He is going to have surgery, so it will be a difficult time for him. We are hoping we can visit and at least keep his spirits up while they are here.

Till next time. . .


Thursday, January 06, 2011

New friends!

We had a new travel trailer pull in beside us the other day. It was brand, spankin' new, and we helped them get parked since that was a new experience for them as well. Lovely little Springdale trailer with a front bedroom and a slide. Very comfortable.

We introduced ourselves and tried not to bother them much while they set up. Later we talked with them and we became fast friends. Dave and Reba are from Henderson, Texas, and he sees one of the doctors here for treatment of lymphoma. They are just a couple years younger than us and they have children and grandchildren as well. They have become very special people to us. We visited numerous times while they were here and talked about our "common" problems.

After their last appointment yesterday, they left Houston and headed back home; but it sounds like they will be back in the somewhat near future. So it is possible they will be back for some treatment before we leave here. We told them to be sure and request a site as near to us as possible, so we can reconnect and support each other as we travail this territory.

There are many museums in the Houston area. We were going to go to the Buffalo Soldiers National Museum; but to be honest, it wasn't very inviting. It was not in a very nice area and the building looked a bit run down and the parking lot was gated off during the "open" hours. So we passed on that.

We did go down to the National Science Museum and that was interesting. It was a "free" day, but all the special collections had to be paid for even if you owned a museum membership. There was an interesting exhibit of "pirate treasure" which we would liked to have seen, but they charged $25 per adult to see it. I'm not sure it would have been worth that much as I am sure from the crowds, it was the busiest and there were a lot of children. So we passed on that. We are spoiled by the museums in Chicago which we saw during school trips when we were in grade school in northern Indiana. Those museums were, and I believe still are, free. They were also much, much larger than any we have seen here. Not to say these aren't good museums, but not to the scale we have seen before. One collection we did enjoy was a jewelry collection which included some of the "Russian crown jewels" from several Czarist eras, included Czar Nicholas and Catherine the Great. Very beautiful specimens.

We have an appointment today and a procedure tomorrow. Then we get down to serious business. So hopefully all will go well in the next couple days and we will get our time here mapped out for us in greater detail.

A couple more pictures of Reliant Stadium and the mostly deserted Astrodome.

Till next time. . .


Saturday, January 01, 2011

Cool New Year's!

Literally. . . it was cool, maybe even a might bit cold today. We went out with sweatshirts on and light jackets. Not bad for January 1, though. I'm not complaining. There is lots of sunshine in Houston, so if you stay out of the shade, you can get warm.

We went off to a flea market today, Trader's Village. It was a bit of a disappointment. It was supposed to open at dawn, but there weren't many people or vendors there even at 10 a.m. We walked to get our exercise then we left. We drove back streets and byways till we got to Ikea. We spent quite a lot of time in there. We love that store and we are looking for ideas to use in our Texas room we plan to build next year. We bought a few items but not much. It was just relaxing to walk through the store and look at all the options for furniture, cabinets, etc.

When we finished up there, we found a BBQ restaurant and had lunch. I had to bring most of mine home. The portion of meat was so large and I will probably be able to get three sandwiches out of what was left.

On the way back, I took a couple pictures of Reliant Stadium with the roof retracted. It is within two miles of our campground, so we see it every time we go out. It sits right next to the Astrodome.

Till next time. . .