Sunday, March 27, 2016

Take Me Out To The Ball Game!

Yesterday was our last day visiting with Brandon, Megan, Brynlee and Jax. We have had a very enjoyable visit this week. It has really flown by and we've had a lot of fun.

I went strawberry picking with Megan and Brynlee. We had to drive quite a ways north to Mims, but the strawberries were huge and delicious. They don't care how many you eat and they don't care if you bring kids. Sounds like a win-win. It didn't take long to get our fill, both in our baskets and in our tummies. I think I ended up with about 6-7 pounds. It was a lot of fun, but then I wondered what I was thinking with picking that many. It's just hard to stop, though, when you see all those huge ripe berries.

Once we got home to the motorhome, I cleaned them all and put them in bags. Later the next day, I mashed them up, put a little sugar in them and froze them. Then later we bagged them in airtight bags with the foodsaver. Oh, I did forget to mention that I made homemade biscuits and we did actually have strawberry shortcake! I like that with fresh strawberries or strawberry pie. Both are excellent, but I didn't think we'd have time to eat the pie, so I made the strawberries up for shortcake. Looking forward to enjoying that later.

The next day Megan, Brynlee and I went to Orlando. Megan had to go to a followup eye doctor appointment for her Lasix surgery. She is doing very well and seeing better than most people do. She is so glad to have had the procedure done. It was a long drive up there and a long drive back, but we did stop after the appointment and have a late lunch at Whole Foods. That evening, Terry and I babysat for Brynlee while Brandon and Megan went out for dinner and did a little shopping.

Saturday evening we went out to eat at Sonny's BBQ with the kids and Megan's parents, Percy and Diane. We had a very nice dinner and I got to chat a bit with Diane. She is also a teacher and is retiring at the end of the school year.

Sunday morning we had an Easter brunch at Diane and Percy's. We ate and then the kids all hunted Easter eggs. Brynlee and her two cousins all joined in the fun.

Later, Brandon, Megan, Brynlee, Terry and I all drove to Viera and went to a spring training baseball game. The Atlanta Braves were playing the Washington Nationals. I haven't been to a baseball game in 20 years or so. Not really my thing, but it was a lot of fun to be with loved ones and getting caught up in the excitement. Brandon almost caught a foul ball, but a tall kid in the row above has the souvenir. It was a hot day, 84 degrees, and sunny. We all had hats and sunscreen, but we were getting a little uncomfortable when the sun went behind a cloud and stayed there the rest of the afternoon. It dropped the temperature 2 degrees which actually helped and we were able to tough it out. The stadium there is very nice. It's not very old. All the seats were contoured and had backs on them. Brynlee got tired early and Megan ended up taking her home. It isn't very far from their house, so that is good.

It was a great visit and I'm so thankful our kids have wonderful families and lives. And so, we are off on our next adventure. . . to Charlottesville, Virginia, to see the other kids!

Till next time. . .


Wednesday, March 23, 2016

A light in the night!

Something happens once in awhile in Florida that doesn't often happen anywhere else. Rocket launches. One was scheduled for last night at 11:05 p.m. We have been in Florida before when launches are scheduled and they are continually postponed, so we try not to get our hopes up too high. We actually have seen two launches. I think both were Atlas 5 rockets carrying payloads to the space station. One we saw from a pier in the Indian River across from the campground and the other was from Brandon's front yard when he lived down near Palm Bay. Both were daytime launches. Brandon assured us we would be able to see the launch from our camp in Wickham Park if the sky remained clear and the launch did not get cancelled for some reason.

We got the dogs walked and back in for the night, checked our cameras, and went outside about 11. I took a few pictures to make sure I had the settings I wanted to use and hoped I didn't mess up the pictures. We were sitting waiting on the picnic table when I saw this strong light. I said, "There it is!" Then we decided that was just a plane or a helicopter coming our way. I thought that was really strange that a plane would be shining that bright on a night a launch was imminent. As the light burned brighter we knew it was indeed the launch. We began to see the smoke trail and started snapping away. It wasn't as large or as bright as the space shuttle launches, but it was still a sight! We heard a slight rumble, but no big noise or anything. Brandon said the larger rockets make a much greater sound. But it was pretty cool and we were happy to be able to witness the nighttime launch even though it was about 30 miles away!

Today I am going strawberry picking with Megan and Brynlee and Megan's mom. I won't pick many, but it will be fun.

Till next time. . .


Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Elvis has left the building!

At Milton, Florida, we stayed at a park called Avalon. It was very nice and the staff was very accommodating. We took the last site available and it was a back-in, but no problem for us. It had rained a great deal on our trip across Mississippi and Alabama and north Florida, but the rain was done by the time we got into Avalon. It did, however, start to storm later and we ended up with two dogs sleeping on the bed with us! They usually jump down sometime during the night after all the stormy weather has passed.

We drove from there to St. Augustine for the night and stayed at a park called Stagecoach. We have been there before and it's decent for an overnight.

We continued our push on toward Melbourne, but it was becoming difficult to find any campsites available. At one point, I tried to add a few days to our reservations at Wickham Park, but they showed they were full every day, so there was no point in trying to arrive a couple days early. Eventually we called the International RV Park down the road from Daytona International Speedway and the Daytona Flea Market. It has been years since we have been to that flea market and we love to browse. Gets us out and moving and it's fun to look at all the "junk" that's for sale.

We checked in on Saturday around noon and the owner invited us to a "Fabulous Fifties" party that evening. It was put on by the park and was completely free. That's right, FREE, including booze if you want it. He gave us free tickets so that evening after we fed the girls, we walked over to the hall. They started with appetizers which were very good and a salad bar. While everybody was chowing down on that, they started calling tables. We were called fairly early so we got our food quickly. They served beef tri tips over rice, green beans and a roll. . . along with the salad and appetizers we had eaten earlier. It was very good. I had a couple cups of beer and thoroughly enjoyed it. Kudos to the owners who treated everyone to such a great evening. Dancing followed and even Elvis put in an appearance. The park residents say the owners do a free dinner for everyone once a month. Wow!

When we arrived at this camp, we had some difficulty with our leveling jacks. We have replaced three of the four, plus a control panel. One of the four already replaced is ratcheting and grinding. We are smart enough now to know the "signs" of failure and know that if it breaks in the down position we are pretty much screwed. It would take awhile to get going because when the jacks go down it dumps the air. When a jack is broken in the down position it continues to dump the air anytime you try to go because that is a built in safety feature that you cannot move with a jack down. In that case we have to pull fuses, try to disconnect or remove the jack and then manually pump the airbags up. It is quite the process which we have done before, but Terry didn't really want to mess with it. Fortunately, I was able to raise it and it locked back in, so that is where the jacks are staying until it is fixed. It means we cannot use the jacks to level, so we have to do some jockeying to get as level as we can before we deploy the slides. But at least we are able to run now, so all is good.

We left there Sunday around 11 a.m. and drove on in to Wickham Park at Melbourne, just about five minutes from the kids. Brandon came out to see us after we got setup and then we joined them all for dinner a little later. He had made pulled pork in the crockpot and potatoes, etc. Wonderful meal and wonderful company. Brynlee is just as cute as ever and is learning to say "Grandma" better. She says "thank you" anytime you do something for her and it's adorable. We got to babysit for her today while Megan had a business meeting. Brandon essentially works from home now, but he is in his office most of the day, so we were glad to help out with Brynlee.

We finally made it. We are glad and we will have a great week! There is a launch tonight at 11:05 p.m. of an Atlas 5 rocket. Skies are clear right now and expected to stay that way. We are hoping nothing happens to postpone it. Brandon says we will be able to see it clearly from the park. I mean, it will pretty much look like a fireball, but we should get a good view of the flash from here. Terry's making popcorn.

Till next time. . .


Thursday, March 17, 2016

Serpentine belts are so overrated!

We left Lakeside RV park just after Gary and Jo left on Wednesday, I think. The days are a blur. We didn't get but eight miles down the road when all hell broke loose. Alarms started going on and lots of red lights on the dash monitor. . . . I HATE RED LIGHTS!

Buzzers in my ears and red lights on the dash. I look down and the message was clear. . . CHECK INFO CENTER. So I scan my eyes to the left and the info center reads "high engine temp 222 degrees." Whoa! Not redlining yet, but getting close. I backed her off and eased over to the side putting my four-way flashers on. We were within one mile of the next exit which we could actually see. We got pulled off about 18 inches off the traffic lane. We could not get the wheels off the road because this county on I-12 due north of New Orleans was under a flood emergency by FEMA and the ground was saturated. Terry got on the phone to the road service who said they would call back with info on a wrecker. As we pondered our plight, we came to the conclusion that it was not "all hell" that broke loose, but likely the serpentine belt that broke. I guess Phaeton Place thought she could run without one, but we convinced her otherwise. In eleven years of fulltiming, we have enjoyed 10 trouble-free years; so we have nothing to complain about. It still is an eerie feeling to see this out your front window though.

Within a half hour, the Louisiana State Police were knocking on our door asking what the problem was. We explained what we thought and that we had just learned our road service had called a wrecker which would be dispatched within an hour. He asked us to call back and ask which wrecker service, because Officer Cook said he could get it dispatched quicker! Whoo hoo! As it was, the wrecker had already left to find us. The officer stayed behind us with his lights flashing and did a good job of getting traffic moved into the other lane. Thank you Officer Cook and the Louisiana State Police. Just a sidenote here: If you see a vehicle on the side of the road, slow down or move over. The wind impact from passing cars, RV's, trucks, etc., is horrendous and you are passing within INCHES of the vehicle. Slow down or move over and keep everyone alive!

It took over an hour for the tow driver to get our driveline unhook so we could be towed. But he knew what he was doing and checked and double-checked everything. He said he got that from his dad who was an airline pilot. Safety first! Great job John and great tow service from American Coachworks in Denham Springs, Louisiana.

We were towed to Big Wheel truck center and backed directly into a bay. The mechanics worked till closing that day and then finished up the next day. They did a good job for us, but there were some "problems" along the way. Fortunately, Terry is very smart about mechanics and knows all the intricacies of our coach. What he may not know, he knows the people to call, so we did just end up with the belt changed and not a lot of other stuff that was suggested. He did have them change the air cleaner because it was time and they had to take it off for access.

They had us all ready to go on Thursday afternoon at 3:30. We drove and drove it seems. We actually made it to Milton, Florida for the night. We had planned to stop at a state park on Mobile Bay, but it was raining again and they were expecting a lot of rain. We decided we didn't want to stay there in the rain and not be able to enjoy any sightseeing, so we just kept going. Better days ahead!

Till next time. . .


Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Leaving the RGV behind

We left the valley last Saturday, March 12, around 9:10. A lot of people came over to say goodbye, chat a bit. We made some new friends the last few months when some renters moved in across the street. Les and Aggie were a lot of fun . . . even if they are Canadian. LOL And some other Canadian friends of theirs came later. Sandy and Danny were back for year two. Danny is the rocker I have posted pictures of. We hated to leave these new friends, but they will all be back next year.

The plan was to drive to Wharton and stay at one of the parks there; but as we drove on, the parks did not look too appealing and the ones we would consider were already full. We ended up driving all the way to Houston and staying in Advanced RV Park in Pearland, the same park we stayed at last fall when we were through the area. The rodeo was going on at the time, so we decided not to go anywhere while we were there for overnight. The traffic was pretty bad as the evening wore on.

The next day we got on the road about the same time and traveled to Kinder, Louisiana, to the Coushatta Casino RV Park. It's one of the nicer parks you will find at casinos and we parked next to the dog park, so it was convenient with the dogs. We met and talked with another camper who is talking about going fulltime and was picking our brains for details. A lot of people talk about it, but I'm not sure how many act on it. You really have to not care much about "stuff." If you are in love with your "stuff" you won't be a happy fulltimer.

Cousin Gary called while we were there and said that his yard was quite saturated from all the rain they had over the past few days and suggested it might be hard to get our motorhome in/out of his yard. Not wanting to tear up his yard or our rig, we had already decided on seeing if they would meet us at a campground and spend a couple nights with us. So we met up at Lakeside RV Resort in Livingston, Louisiana. We arrived after they did, but just as they were getting parked, so it worked out pretty good. We parked right next to each other. The park was having a spaghetti dinner that night, so we signed up for it. We went over to the hall about 5 and got in line for dinner. We were all seated at tables facing each other and after dinner we were asked to introduce ourselves and tell a little about us. There were several who have just started out fulltiming. So many of them, however, go fulltime and then just live in the same RV park 100% of the time. To me that is not what fulltiming is all about. If weather is too hot or too cold, you can spend a lot in fuel or electricity trying to stay comfortable. The fulltime lifestyle is really about moving along and seeing this great country.

We spent the next day with Gary and Jo. We first hit Camping World in Hammond where we found few bargains but did get some stuff. We headed over to Mandeville next because Terry liked the name. What can I say? That's what happens sometimes. It appears the old part of town may be gone due to Hurricane Katrina, but we did find a little cafe for lunch that had really good food. Later we drove to Lake Pontchartrain, which we could access from the town. We walked out onto a fishing pier with the causeway bridge in the background and took some pictures. The bridge is 27 miles long. We didn't drive on it, but perhaps someday we will. What an engineering marvel! We have actually seen it from the air flying to Brandon's before.

Once we got back to camp, Gary cooked fish on the grill for supper. It was really good. We enjoyed our time with them and glad that they could take time to come camp with us.

Till next time. . .


Monday, March 07, 2016

And they call the wind. . . Mariah!

Yeah, well, Mariah is a witch, that's for sure. We have been having wind for several days now and it is stronger than ever. . . and relentless. It just blows and blows. . . yes, it really blows! LOL According to the weather report, we are having winds of 20 mph with gusts of 39. Well, I'm telling you, it is gusting ALL the time and it's probably more than 39. Motorhomes have heavy doors and when we open it, we have to struggle to get it open. The wind has been from the E, SE all day so it tries to blow the door shut when we open it. It is annoying, but we will survive!

We are getting ready to leave. It's hard to believe it's that time of year again, but it is! We are leaving Saturday or Sunday, depending on Butterscotch. She has to have a second cystoscopy on Friday and I'm not sure she would be able to travel on Saturday. The last time she had one, she was in some discomfort the day following, so we want to take care of her. We don't plan to go too far though the first night and the roads are good. We would want to stage the run through Houston on Sunday morning.

When we started planning our exit from the valley this year, we decided to leave a month earlier than we usually do so that we could stop and see many friends along the way. We always like to visit with our friends, but don't often get the chance, so we planned to do that this year. Now with these new developments with Butterscotch, we are leaving two weeks later than we had planned. So that meant we had to cut out some stops. Then we discovered that our daughter is going to need some help with her kids the end of March, so for us to leave the valley, drive to Florida to see our son and his family and make it to Virginia by March 31, we are going to have to pretty much cut out seeing anyone. It wasn't what we planned originally, but family comes first and I hope that everyone understands that. We feel fortunate that we are mobile and able to help when we can. Hopefully we can visit all our friends another time, but my kids and grandkids will always come first. We normally only get to see them twice a year and I won't skimp on that. And when they need help, we want to be there.

We have been busy for the last two weeks getting things in order for leaving. We also plan to set Mom and Dad's place up again. Since no one was in there this winter, we plan to treat the traps again, adding some water and antifreeze to keep seals from drying out.

We have one more jam to attend. . . the one at Casa Del Valle over in Alamo. Our friend Danny plays there and he is so good. He has a rock band back in Illinois, and we hope to go over this summer and listen to them play.

Till next time. . .


Friday, March 04, 2016

Valley Time!

We've had a good winter here in the Rio Grande Valley. The weather has been far better than the last two years. Those years we couldn't string together five days of decent weather. Now our "cold fronts" that come through bring mid-70's temps, so we are good to go. We have had some hot days and one that rumored to hit the 100 degree mark. I saw 95* myself.

We try to walk every day. We do it early in the morning before it gets too hot. We walk about 2.2 miles. Then we try to ride bikes every afternoon, but it has been really windy for several days rights now, so we haven't ridden much. Every day we walk past Tigger's house. Tigger is this huge cat that loves people. If he is in the back of the lot and I call him, he meows and comes running. I always pet him if he's out. Many other walkers do the same. Some feed him treats, but Tigger doesn't need anymore, so I just pet him. He is pretty cool for a cat.

We have been going to some shows down here. They have "Wintertainers." There has only been one we went to that was pretty lousy. The singer wasn't bad, but the people playing with her were out of tune and terrible, so we left during the break of that one. One we really enjoyed was Adam Pope. He is "rockabilly" and really good. His material is all original and he talks a bit about his music. We saw him twice, at our park and a neighboring park.

Our friends, Danny and Sandy, returned this winter and Danny has been playing at some of the jams in the area. Rock and  roll jams that is. He is really good and has a rock band back in Illinois. We may go see his band this summer.

There is also another couple who arrived last month across the street from us and we have enjoyed visiting with them. They are all coming back next year as well. We are going to be having quite a few new people in the park next year. After several years of properties for sale and not selling, we have enjoyed a period of increased sales. It will be good to have some new people in the park.

Butterscotch, our white Scottish Terrier, has had a rough year. She has bladder issues, but we finally found a vet down here who is interested in finding her problems and getting to the bottom of it. We believe he has found what's ailing her, but there isn't a great prognosis. She develops bladder stones, so we changed her diet. She has a malformation in her genital tract which makes it difficult and slow emptying her bladder. That by itself can cause infection to develop, so she will probably have to remain on antibiotics for the rest of her life. The good news is there wasn't any evidence of cancer, so we are thankful for that. She just doesn't have any energy though and doesn't want to walk, etc. She sleeps a lot. She goes back Friday for another cystoscopy to see if there are any visible changes. Wish us luck. We love her and her sister so much.
Till next time. . .