Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Texas Room, Day 2!

Today started out with unrolling 100 feet of plastic, completely covering the 12 x 28 foot structure. After the plastic was in place, insulation was pressed into the plastic between the floor joists. This is a method developed by our builder and it allows for the placing of the plastic and insulation without crawling under the floor. We have purposely set our room up off the pavement because there have been times during extremely heavy downpours that our street gets flooded. The last time was during Hurricane Dolly. So we wanted to make sure our building was up far enough to avoid water damage. It also will look like the other structures along the street with the skirting down below.

Once they got the insulation in place, we used tongue-n-groove plywood for the decking. The sheets were really heavy so I got to help with that. They staggered the pieces and once they were all on and tacked down, they had to screw it down with screws every eight inches. While a couple guys did that, John figured up the materials list for the next phase.

After that was completed, another layer of black plastic was rolled on, pulled tight, and then stapled. As I understand it, that is primarily to protect everything from the possibility of rain. We had some forecast early this morning that didn't materialize, but none forecast for tomorrow. There is rain further into the forecast, but they are hoping to get the walls up and the roof on so they can work inside.

We cleaned everything up and headed out to McCoy once again and ordered more materials. This should take care of the walls and roof. It is starting to take shape now and we are anxious to get it finished.

We have had several people stop by and visit while we are working. It is always fun to talk with people and our project seems to be getting some attention.

Till next time. . .


The Texas Room, Day 1!

Yesterday was Day 1 of the Texas room build. It's a one-man show. The same one who built our tool shed. Terry is "assisting" with a close eye from me. He feels really good and it would be easy for him to overdo it. So I am there to "remind" him.

The room will be 12 x 28 and will include a full bath, a laundry room, a kitchenette with 2-burner cooktop, a convection/microwave, an "all-purpose" room and a couple closets. It will be attached to our little shed and will be very nice when finished. We are going to tile the floor throughout. We aren't sure if the living area will have a sofa or a hide-a-bed. There will at least be an airbed for visitors. It mainly will provide us with additional space while we are here and give me a place to work on sewing, music, etc. Not sure how much will get done this year. . . perhaps all. . .or we may have to finish it up next year when we come down. But it will be nice when finished.

Till next time. . .


Sunday, January 22, 2012

South Padre Island, Texas, part deux!

Friday morning we had breakfast in the hotel and discovered there were "Market Days" on tap at the Convention Center just across the road. It was supposed to be a big craft type flea market. So we drove over and were there when it opened. We did a walk through. It wasn't really all that large, but it was interesting. Most of the craft sales we see around this part of the valley focus on costume jewelry--something I was never into. But it was interesting to look at. I did buy another small purse that I can take when we go to flea markets.

From there we went to Isla Blanca, a county park at the south end of the island. There is a very large campground there and there were spaces available. It was nicer than we had remember, however. I think they may have done some upgrading. You can actually book a site there for the season and it is not that expensive. In some areas the sites were much larger than in the other areas. We also drove around to the the Statue of Jesus. The Statue is a plea to watch over and pray for the souls of the lost fisherman who have sailed from Port Isabel and never returned.

We drove over to the beach area and parked so we could walk out on the beach. It isn't crowded on the island right now, but that will all change in a couple weeks. When the spring breakers get here, it will be a wild time. We planned our mini-vacation so we would miss all that excitement.

We left the island and traveled back across the bridge and parked right in front of the Port Isabel Light. We didn't make the trek up, mainly because Terry can't and I didn't want to do it alone. So we walked around the block and visited the many shops in the area. We got a coupon for ice cream, so before we left we went to the ice cream shop and got a dip of Blue Bell. Hmmmm mmmmm good!

Terry had always wanted to visit Arroyo City which was just 15 miles to the north. Something about the name has always intrigued him, so we drove up to the town. It is an interesting area. There is a ditch that appears to be dug and it goes from the coast down to Harlingen, or near there. Since there is a Port Harlingen, we assume the ditch will handle some large boats which carry supplies down to Harlingen. We didn't see any, however. We did see some boats called scooters. They are actually flat. . . much like a raft with a motor on the back. Actually water comes up over the back and it appears the boat sinks in the back, but it stays afloat. The nose sticks out of the water. They are for navigating very shallow waters, of course, but would be useless with waves I would think.

We saw pelicans which were curious about us. I guess they thought we would have food for them. There was a fish cleaning station there on the pier, so they must have been waiting for something to clean their catch. As we were leaving the area, we cross over the ditch on this really cool lift bridge.

We traveled on to Harlingen because there is an Iwo Jima monument there. I have seen brochures about it and wanted to visit. Wow! What a surprise. It was HUGE! It is on the campus of a military prep school and it is the actual plaster model which was used to create the bronze casting of the actual monument which is located in Washington, D.C. Since it is plaster, it requires some maintenance, but the atmosphere in south Texas is not as destructive as some other climes would be. The sculptor gifted the model to the military academy and they care for it now. There is also a Marine museum on the grounds which is small but has a nice collection of memorabilia from various wars. If you are in the area, I would suggest you take time to visit the monument and the museum.

We packed a lot into the two days we were gone, but we had a very nice time and it was good to spend some time at the island and places in between.

Till next time. . .


Saturday, January 21, 2012

South Padre Island, Texas!

Thursday morning we left Mission and headed for South Padre Island. It is about 90 miles to the east and we started our leisurely drive around 9 a.m. We stopped in Harlingen at the new Bass Pro Shop. We had just learned a few days earlier that the new store was open and we hadn't even known they were building one there! So we stopped and browsed. I picked up a couple things and we were back on our way.

We arrived at the island and took a drive to the south of the bridge to see where our cruise location was. We had tickets for a dophin cruise at 4 p.m. and a dinner afterwards, so we figured out where we needed to be. Then we drove on north and found our hotel. We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express and found it was almost across from the convention center. The last time we were out here, the convention center seemed to be at the end of the populated area and across from it is a county park that has RV camping. That is all still there in the same location, but there is more development out north of the convention center, so we drove out past that. After a few miles, there was a road closed barrier and it was obvious that blowing and drifting sand was the culprit, although the island does end a bit further north. We took the opportunity to stop and walk out to the beach and see the ocean. It was breezy and overcast, but nice anyway. There were a few trucks out on the beach, but I don't think they came out through the beach access we used. It was a little deep in sand and it looked like others had had trouble driving through it and I think they probably had driven up from a different access point.

We headed back south and stopped at the Sea Turtle rescue building. Here they rescue sea turtles and rehabilitate them. Those that can be re-released to the ocean are, but others will spend the rest of their lives in captivity. We met "Allison" who is one such turtle. She only has one flipper. . . the others eaten by a shark which had also taken a chunk off her shell. She would have drowned had she not been rescued. She would not have been able to swim to the surface of the water with only one flipper. She was brought back to health and is kept in a shallow tank. There is a ramp of sorts which she can float onto and lay up partially out of the water. She was actually not in the tank when we arrived, but was brought back in on a cart. She had been out for a blood draw and the one worker then lifted her gently into the water. She weighs 65 pounds and after placing her in her tank, he fed her some lettuce which she greedily gulped down. The center there has created a prosthesis which allows her more mobility in deep water and a few hours a day, they fit her with it and put her in a deep tank. This allows her to swim like she normally would out in the ocean. She is monitored constantly. You can learn more about Allison here:
Allison, the Green Sea Turtle. There are other turtles here and this is a picture of Gerry, who is about 30 years old and weighs 150 pounds.

After checking into our hotel, we drove down to the cruise pier and waited for our 4 p.m. cruise. As it was, there were only two other couples who were on the cruise, so the six of us got to have the entire 45' boat to ourselves! How bad is that! We went out into the bay and the pilot stopped often and talked with us about the bridges and told a little history of the area. The 2 1/2 mile bridge we drive across is the second such bridge. The other is still partially standing. It was used for a time for a fishing pier, but is now closed because of the unstable condition.

While the captain was narrating, the deck hand was fishing with a net for some sea creatures. He picked out several different sea dwellers and placed them in a tank on the boat which he had filled with water. Then he would talk to us about the various species and something about them. There were fish, starfish, crabs, and my favorite. . . the puffer fish. These amazing little dudes are kind of funny looking to begin with, but when agitated, they start puffing up. Once they are back in the water and relaxing, they return to a normal state.

We motored on out into the bay and we were soon rewarded with dolphins! They were playing and swimming and actually came quite close to the boat. They were not afraid of the boat apparently and we saw several pods of these amazing animals. We spent the rest of our time looking at the various groups of dolphins and watching their antics while the captain talked about the shorelines we were seeing and the ship channel that runs down to the Port of Brownsville. It was quite interesting and exciting. Our cruise was a "sunset" cruise, but with the overcast skies, we didn't really see a sunset, but we did get to see some fog roll in. It was a great cruise anyway!

Part of the package we purchased included a dinner at the Shrimp Haus on the island. It is right across the street from the cruise site and we were treated to a great dinner. We were also treated to live entertainment which was very good as well. A great day on the island!

Till next time. . .


Fun in the Sun!

With the approval of our Texas Room plan, the first order of business was to get rid of the shed we have sitting on the back of the lot. Terry got the satellite dish off of it and we found someone who needed the shed more than we did. He hired a crew to come over and move the shed. It is an 8 x 10 foot shed and build entirely out of wood, so it was quite heavy. The group arrived and made several attempts before leaving and getting more materials and tools with which to jack it up, etc. They finally accomplished the goal and once they got a dolly under it, the move went fairly smoothly. The got it off our lot, then moved it down our street, turned a corner and down another block, then moved it over the curb and onto the other guy's lot. Mission accomplished!

While that was going on, we had our street dinner and we both worked most of the day. We really got along well and there was some food left over we got to bring home. The dinner was sold out, so we no doubt made some money for the park. 400 tickets were sold and the hall was busy and filled for most of the two hours we were serving. We have a lot of good workers on our street and they did not disappoint. Almost everything was cleaned up and put away by 6:30 p.m. Not bad.

Till next time. . .


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Wasted days and wasted nights. . .

I guess you cannot say it's a wasted day when you do nothing, but that was all you planned to do, eh? Hah! Like Dad says. . . I planned to do nothing, but didn't get it finished. So today's another day. . .

We had some cool weather, but followed by warm weather. . . no rain, windy occasionally, but totally enjoyable days and nights. Can't beat that. Right now the weather is a little erratic. Yesterday and today in the 80's, before that 60's and some of that to follow in a day or two, but climbing back up after that.

Today was the first time in two weeks Terry and I didn't wake up coughing. That's a good sign. This Texas crud may be about over. We get it every year. So does everyone else. Not sure who spreads it around. . . we stayed home when we were sickest.

We have some things on tap for the this week. Tomorrow is our "street" dinner. Every year the residents of each street put on dinners and invite the public. Ours is a pork loin dinner. Tenderloin with gravy, mashed potatoes, vegetables, roll, dessert and coffee or tea--all for $6. The work starts in the morning with peeling potatoes, then we come back in the afternoon to mash them and put them in roasters. The meat is also prepared in the morning and roasted all day to make it luscious and tender. We come back in the afternoon and start serving. It is over at 6 o'clock and then we clean up. It is a long day, but everyone pitches in. We use the proceeds from the dinners to add to the park account and by doing so, it keeps our assessments down. We only pay $225 a year for our assessment. That keeps the pool and the hall running and various maintenance items around the park covered. Last year we weren't here for any of the dinners because we were in Houston while Terry had treatment at MD Anderson. BTW, he is doing very well and his tests and reports are all in the normal range.

Last week we submitted our plan to the architectural committee for our Texas Room. Initially we had been told our plan would not be approved because it violates the park's covenants. Being the researchers we are, we know that not to be true. What might be true is that it violates some people's "interpretation" of the park covenants. We weren't surprised by this as our neighbor recently did some concrete work (with the properly signed permits) and word was some people intended to make him remove the new concrete. So we just submitted our plan and waited. Sunday two men came by to talk and later one of those men returned to tell us we would get approval. Seems the person who objected got the opinion of the developer as to what was intended on the original covenants and things were cleared up in a hurry. We were careful not to get angry or talk a lot about our plan because we could make adjustments if necessary. And if we never get to build the room, it's not really a big deal. As luck would have it, yesterday the signed plan was delivered and we were wished good luck with the addition and all is well. We also have an existing shed on the lot which has to be moved and a man came by yesterday and wants the shed. The only stipulation is that he needs to move it. We are giving it away free, which is about the right price for him and he is going to get some men to help him move it. It is a stick built 8 x 10, but Terry has appliance carts for under each corner and it will roll through the park in a couple days on its way to its new home.

Our room will be started the end of the month. Not sure how long it will take to build it. John, the man who built our shed will do the Texas room. We planned about six weeks for the build. It will have a full bath, a laundry area, a kitchenette and a "great room" which will double as a living room with ability to sleep family who come to visit. There will be storage. I told Terry we cannot have too much storage because we will start to accumulate things which we really don't want to do. But right now south Texas is great weather and we see ourselves spending winters down here with Mom and Dad for several more years, so it will make things comfortable for us and any other family who wish to visit.

The end of the week will find us hopefully at South Padre Island. Terry bought us tour tickets for a two-hour dolphin tour followed by dinner at a local restaurant. We can go any time, but the weather this weekend promises to be good and we want to go before the spring breakers hit the island.

Till next time. . .


Friday, January 06, 2012


Captain Gary Harp, Coastal Fishing Guide Services, Inc., USCG Licensed.

A big shout out to cousin Gary for his catch this week!

A shameless plug, I know. Gary and Terry are first cousins. Gary is a man of many interests. He was a teacher, a coach, a principal, a supervisor for Georgia Pacific. He retired from those jobs years ago and pursued one of his hobbies. . . fishing. . . into a charter fishing service. If you want to catch fish, he's the man. If you don't catch fish, you get money back! Haha.

We have been out with him before and it is exciting and fun.

This was a black drum, caught in two feet of water. He was about 50 pounds; took all of about five minutes to land him. He was released back into the water after the photo.

You can learn more about Gary's adventures at Lewis and Harp. If you go to the photo gallery and go back a page to 6/8/2004, there are several pictures of us and our catch.

Congratulations Gary!

Till next time. . .



I'm sick. Yuck. Just the normal winter cold, or what they call down here the "Texas Crud." Terry started by getting it last week, but the worst of his lasted only two days. Mine promises to surpass that number and make my life miserable for a few more days. I feel like I'm choking.

Yesterday before I got to feeling worse, Terry dragged me out of the comfort of my motorhome to parts unknown. I remember him saying something about an appliance store, but before we were done, we had hit just about every store that sells appliances in McAllen. We are looking for items we will need for our Texas room. That will be started the end of January, so the time is quickly approaching. I don't know that it will get finished this year, but we will get a good start on it.

The Texas room will have a full bath, laundry area, kitchenette and living/dining area. It will be about 12 x 30. It should be very comfortable and allow us to have guests if anyone cares to visit. I don't like building stuff. . . don't like stuff in disarray, so this will be a real challenge for me. I will probably spend more time in the motorhome ignoring what goes on outside as best I can.

I got Terry a new scanner for Christmas. It's an Ion Document Scanner. I had an ulterior motive in purchasing it for him, I must admit. Every year I carry a box of snapshots from years ago with the intention of scanning them into the computer. My goal is to scan the thousands of pix I have accumulated in 40 years and catalog them onto DVD's. I figure the kids would like some of these old pictures. Some I have never looked at since they were taken and they are interesting. The quality of the pictures is not good. Unlike the advantages of using a digital camera now, pictures were much more subject to bad lighting and bad focusing years ago. I scanned in about 600 pictures earlier this week. Then I straightened them and cropped them. They really turned out well. I must say a little clarity was lost, but the advantage is that they are all together on one medium and easy to flip through. In six years on the road, I had never bothered to get out the big scanner I keep under the bed in order to complete this task. This little portable scanner did a great job and I am looking forward to doing more this summer when I get back to my larger stash of old photos.

The first picture is of my kids and their cousins. There are seven of them. Our daughter Jocelyn is left front. Our son Brandon is right front. Another picture shows Jocelyn holding Brandon soon after he was born. Another picture shows them both on a ride at Santa Claus Land. The last picture is of our beloved Fritzie. We got him when my younger sister Nita was a baby. He departed life soon after she left home at age 18. He had a great life. He came from Arizona where my Dad's brother and wife had Fritzie's Dad. I think he was known at Big Fritz. My aunt took Fritzie and housebroke him and put him on a train to Indiana. He was a great dog. How scared he must have been on that ride, but he was loved for all of his years.

Do you get nostalgic looking at old pictures? I am finding that I look at these old pictures and wish I could hug my kids again when they were that age. I miss having them running in the yard, playing with the dog, etc. That will never be. It is sad for me. Even though they are adults, married and I have one+ grandchild, there is something in those old pictures I wish I could hang onto besides just the memories. It is a weird feeling.

Till next time. . .