Wednesday, November 30, 2011

All Work, No Play

The weather today was about as perfect as one could hope for.  Blue skies, temps in the 80's, and just enough of a breeze to keep things manageable.

Today was another work day, so that we can just relax and visit with friends for the month of December.

We shortened our morning coffee time, because I wanted to start washing and waxing the vehicles before it got too hot.  Our motorhome is parked facing directly south, so in the morning I worked on the shaded west side, then after lunch, I worked in the shaded east side.

I would like to say the rig is shiny and would blind a person, but, that is not the case.  My neighbour friend said our fibreglass is badly oxidized, and we would need to remove the oxidization before we would be really happy.

I will have to look into that, because after all that hard work, a fella wants to admire his beer can reflecting in the mirror like finish !!

I had much better luck with our Sunfire, however.  After a good wash, including the undercarriage, I had enough energy left to wax the car.

Ahhh, now that is more like it !!  It puts a smile on my face, when I can see the palm trees shining in the paint.

I was so tired by the time I was done, I could barely lift my arms above my head.  ( Not that I go around doing that, but still, if I wanted to, I couldn't ).

There was no use in looking for sympathy from my sweetie, however.  She had her own war going on.  RV fridges need to be defrosted from time to time, and ours was overdue.  All the humidity from the coast seemed to hasten this chore. 

While waiting for the frost to melt, she had completely Armor-Alled the cab of our rolling home.  Next the venetians and windows.  Soon she was off again to do a load of laundry.  In the meantime, she had prepared meals and snacks, to keep us going.

She came back from the laundromat, saying she had met two wonderful women, and they had a nice visit.  Seems everywhere we go, we run into great people.

Funny story, we are parked near a military training base.  Around six in the morning, they must have been doing some marching drills, and all the cadets were counting and shouting of some sort in unison.  Well, it just so happened I was dreaming, and the soldiers shouting and marching played into my dream, except it was a crowd of people shouting and chasing me !!  Sadly, they weren't frenzied fans, they were out to get me ... LOL

Sure hope they are a little more quiet tonight !!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Harlingen, Texas

Well, with a tear in our eyes, we said good bye to the Gulf Coast.  We have enjoyed the beach life, and want to return, but for now, we need to get our vehicles cleaned up. 

The salt air, the sand, and the humidity have left our rig looking a little weather beaten, for sure.  Fellow RV'ers have told us to watch for rust, and to clean our vehicles thoroughly.  With that advice, we made plans to go down to the Rio Grande Valley, and park for a few days, to do some chores.

We left the brand new Corpus Christi Walmart on Monday morning.  Imagine our surprise when we heard that it froze overnight.  We were snug as could be, but it sure was cold on our feet when we turned on the coffee pot.

Our Walmart spot for the night

We arrived in Harlingen around noon.  This is a Passport America park, so we are paying $18.00 per night.  They will allow washing of vehicles, so we are happy with that.

As we were parking our rig, I looked up and gasped, because our air conditioner cover WAS GONE !!  My first thought was I hoped it never hit into a vehicle behind us.  Then I looked at this morning's photo in Walmart, and realized it was torn off by then already.

We got set up, and I started making a few phone calls.  Are you kidding me ... these plastic covers are almost $200.00 !!  Ah, but one of the RV shops I called said they have a good used one in the back they will let go for $45.00.  Great, I will be right there.

Our A/C sure looks ugly without a cover

Okay, this should be an easy fix, right ?  Just remove four bolts and put the new one on.  Nope, the bolts were so rusted in after 12 years of rain and sun, that they stripped coming out.  And new bolts were no help, because the threads in the a/c were stripped as well.

Luckily, my neighbour saw my distress ( hopefully he did not hear me talking to myself ) and crawled up on the roof to take a look.  Well, turns out he was a mechanic for 30 some years, and he had some ingenious ideas that ended up working.  Yeah, we look presentable again.

That is more like it

With that job done, I started washing the rig and car in the 80 degree heat.  I think I overdid it a little because I got a little light headed when I bent over to get something.  Even with a hat on, and drinking almost a gallon of water, I was forced to come inside and cool off for a bit.

But it didn't take long for me to get chased out of there, because Teresa was on a serious mission.  She was doing laundry, vacuuming, polishing furniture, and scrubbing away a week's worth of fine sand and dirt.

To top it off, she made a great supper.  I sure cannot keep up to that human dynamo !!

We are really looking forward to meeting up with our friends on Thursday.  We are going to be parked up for a whole month, and can hardly wait !!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Corpus Christi, Texas

Wow, a cold front blew in overnight, and I was tempted to throw a rope around us in bed to keep from falling out.  Now we know what it is like to ride a buckin' bronco !!

We enjoyed our coffee time, and slowly got packed up to head to our next destination.  The winds were fierce, and of course, we were headed straight into it.  Our rig gets a consistent 9 mpg towing the car, but today I watched it heading towards the E at record speeds.

At least our drive was short today.  We arrived at Corpus Christi, and we were both surprised how large it is.  We were thinking another little resort town ... not !!

We made our way to the ocean front drive, and enjoyed the scenery. 

The temperature topped out in the mid 60's, so we walked briskly to the waterfront piers.

We had the place to ourselves, because no one else would brave the strong winds coming in off the ocean.

This city is very clean, and pedestrian friendly, with nice wide walkways.

Once again, we find the local residents are very friendly.  We get a lot of  " yes, Ma'ams, and yes, Sirs ".  

We sure love being Winter Texans !!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Visiting Port Aransas

The agenda today was a visit to Port Aransas on Mustang Island.  We discussed the details over our morning coffee, when it started to rain. Oh, oh, better hold off for a bit.

Well, the good news is by noon the rain let up.  The bad news was, it was overcast, and very, very windy.  Not really perfect conditions for going to the beach, but we decided to tough it out.

There is a ferry connecting the mainland to Port Aransas, and it only takes a few minutes to cross the channel.

Unlike the large ferries, you sure can feel the rocking of the sea waves on these little guys.  And with the wind today, our ferry was a rockin'.

We checked out the local beaches, and found it was quite busy today, I guess because it was a Saturday.  The sand here is very fine, and with the wind today, it was blowing across the road, blowing into our car, and blowing into our hair, face, eyes, and mouth.  Time to get outta here !

I found a coffee shop, and bought us a nice hot treat, while we toured around in the car.

Teresa has been craving chicken burgers on the bbq, so we enjoyed those for supper.  The wind blew out my Weber, which was a first for me.  However, I persevered, and we were well rewarded.

And, we have now entered the 21st century, by buying a US based cell phone.  After considerable research, we decided a Tracfone would best meet our needs south of the border.

We purchased an LG flip phone for .... only .... $14.99.  This phone has everything we need, including a camera. 

There are no contracts to sign, and no monthly bills.  You simply purchase air time.  You can buy the cards, but I will pay for the minutes on-line, where you can get better offers.

This phone also features bonus double air minutes for the life of the phone, so when I purchase, for example 60 minutes of air time for $19.99, I will automatically receive 120 minutes.

You can phone anywhere in the US or Canada, for only the cost of the minutes used .. ie - there are no long distance charges.  Also, you can send/receive texts at a rate of 3 per minute of airtime.  Another nice feature is you can easily see how many minutes you have left on the display, and your minutes roll over.

I will give our opinion on this phone after we have a chance to try it out, in case anyone else is considering a Tracfone.

Teresa is wanting to Skype our family tonight, so I better get cleaned up, and scrape some of this sand off.  It takes effort for me to look good, but Teresa is a natural ... LOL.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Aransas Pass, Texas

We were going to do more free beach camping on Mustang Island today, but we were a little short on groceries, and decided to stay on the mainland at Aransas Pass.

We found a wonderful Passport America park for only 16 bucks a night.  We'll take two of those nights, please !!

With that done, we jumped in the car and made our way to Walmart and an HEB grocery store.  I was supposed to bbq tonight, but time slipped away on us, so we just picked up supper from the deli, and rushed home to relax.

We put the a/c on to cool things off, and Teresa found a Christmas movie on TV, so we are happy campers.

Hopefully, we will get out to do some exploring tomorrow.

And don't forget everyone, only 1 more month till Christmas !!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving at Rockport, Texas

Okay, two posts in one day.  And all for the same low price !

Teresa and I arrived in Rockport today around lunch time, and checked in to the Circle W RV Ranch. 

I have to tell you, the owners and residents here are the friendliest bunch we have ever met.  As we were getting checked in, they were setting up for their Thanksgiving Lunch.  We were invited to participate in the festivities, and they insisted on us not bringing anything, as we were just arriving.  If you know Teresa, you know that she is a generous giver, and it took some coaxing by all, to talk her into coming, because she always wants to bring something.

Well, there was NO shortage of  Everyone had a ton to eat, and all were laughing and talking, and expressing their thankfulness in their own way.

We have much to be thankful for ourselves, and thought it was fitting that we had two thanksgivings this year !!  Our thoughts were of family, and friends, and Teresa had a few teary moments.

Tomorrow we head back out to the gulf shore for some more beach camping, so we might not have internet again for a day or two.

There is a heated indoor pool here, complete with hot tub, so I better see if I can talk Teresa into our first swim of the winter !

Magnolia Beach, Texas

Life is a beach !!  We have just finished a couple of days boondocking at Magnolia Beach. 

Boondocking or dry camping, means you have no hookups.  No electric, no water, and no sewer.  This is not a problem for a few days, but after that, we need to find a water source, and our rig needs to find a potty as well !!

As you can see in the above photo, you can park close to the Gulf of Mexico.  In addition, you can stay here as long as you want, there is no time limit. 

We met some very nice people that have been here for a few weeks, and some, like us, are only here for a short time.  There were folks from Alberta, Ontario, and about 3 rigs from Quebec.  Don't worry, there is plenty of room if you decide to come to the beach.

Oh ya, I am almost embarrassed to say this, but Teresa and I had our best sleep to date.  It gets black dark on the beach, with no light poles, and because we were conserving our battery power, we chose not to have too many lights on.  Well, about 8pm, the yawning started taking over, so we gave up the fight, and crawled into bed.  We slept until 8 o'clock the next morning !!  Yep, that is a solid 12 hours of sleep.

Later in the afternoon, we were relaxing on the beach, and my darling bride spoiled me with this awesome treat, also enjoyed on the beach.

Of course, we had no internet connections, so sorry if we alarmed any of our friends or family.  We just slept in a bit, that's all.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Galveston, Texas

" Galveston, oh Galveston
I still hear your sea winds blowin'
I still see her dark eyes glowin'
She was 21, when I left Galveston "

Teresa and I have been singing that song at the top of our lungs for two days straight now.  The funny thing is we don't really know all the lyrics, so we kind of just keep repeating the first few lines ... LOL.

We didn't know anything about this city before we arrived here.  We didn't even realize it was on an island.  But, one thing we do know, if you are traveling in the area, a stop here is a must !

 We had such an enjoyable day, we didn't want it to end.  As we were approaching the island, our windows were getting dirty, almost like fog.  The second we got out of our rig, you could almost taste the salty air.  It is so tropical feeling.  I guess it is that salty air that gets all over your vehicles and windows.

 We had such great weather, and being a Sunday, there were a lot of families having fun.  A lot of people from Houston come here, especially in the summer, since it is less that an hour away.

We spent the day walking on the Seawall, walking barefoot in the ocean, and Teresa even did some shopping.

 Another thing we wanted to do was tour the Silk Stocking District near the downtown.  This self guided tour, takes you passed almost 70 homes that were built by the wealthy in the late 1800's and early 1900's. 

 These houses have been restored to their original glory, and some are even on the National Historic list.

Some of these houses were wedding gifts to children, and some were summer homes for wealthy doctors and lawyers from Houston and surrounding areas.

I am so glad that we did not see the devastation from Hurricane Ike in Sept of 2008.  It would bring tears to our eyes, to see the beauty of this area, wiped out in a matter of hours.

There are signs everywhere, however, of the storm, and the rebuilding process. This landmark, complete with new palm trees being planted, are a testament to the resilience of these people.

One thing for sure, this resort will forever be etched into our hearts.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

League City, Texas

This morning, Teresa was up bright and early.  I think it was because she did not want to miss our friend's departure. 

We have had an amazing time with these two couples over these past four days.  However, they are heading to Llano Grande for a Sunday check in, and we won't be there until Dec 1st, because we wanted to spend some time on the gulf coast.

We watched as they hooked up their beautiful Mobile Suites 5th wheels.  Ed and Marilyn have a Ford dually tow vehicle and Bob and Janet cruise around in their Dodge Cummins truck.

Thou shalt not envy, thou shalt not envy !!

We departed with hugs and a bit of sadness, but knowing we will see them in less than two weeks really helped.  Now, when the end of December comes, I can guarantee tears from at least one of us !

Shortly after they left, it was pretty quiet in our rig, but we managed to get packed up, and said good bye to Betty's.  Thank you Betty, we have made some wonderful memories while enjoying your hospitality.

Shortly after we got going, we were not sure if our GPS was taking us on good roads or not, and with a big smile Teresa said " if Ed was here, he would know where to go.... he is amazing with directions, isn't he Trent" ! 

I was nodding my head in the affirmative, because Ed is blessed with that rare gene that gives him an uncanny sense of direction, and all he has to do is drive through a town once, and he has his bearings. 

Boy, what I would give to have that gift.  I am not kidding when I say that sometimes Teresa and I will be leaving a park that we had just camped in the night before, and neither of us will remember how to get back out to the highway.  We love/need our GPS.

And now ...  We are Winter Texans !!

We crossed into Texas, and made our way towards Galveston.  We are parked up for the night only a half hour away, so we will have a nice breakfast, and should be there well before lunch.

Not too sure how long we will stay, but it will be our first time on the beach for a long long time.

Look out Galveston, here we come !!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Cajun Swamp Tour

A few days ago, when we were making plans to meet with our present friends, Ed mentioned going on a swamp tour, and would we like to join them.

I told Teresa this is something I thought we would enjoy, when immediately her eyes widened, and she said NO.  Awww, c'mon honey, there is no way an alligator is going to get you, and who knows when we will get a chance to do this again, and especially with these great friends, and .....

Well, the more I tried to make her change her mind, the further she dug in her tiny little heels. 

Fast forward to today, and I am happy and proud to report that my little bride surprised us all by kicking and screaming agreeing to go.

And what a perfect day it was.  The sun was shining making it quite warm for our drive to Lake Martin.  We both had our windows unrolled for the last little jaunt to the swamp, when I asked Teresa to watch in the wet ditches, for 'gators.  You should have seen how fast she rolled up her window, which had me in stitches !!

We soon arrived and met our guide, Brian Champagne. He was so interesting to listen to, and we really learned a lot about the eco system in these wetlands.

We soon headed out in his aluminum boat, and because the water level is low, we kept bottoming out, and banging into fallen tree stumps.  I was aware that something was tugging on my sweater, and realized Teresa was hanging on for dear life.

Brian was constantly teaching us about the plants, birds, and reptiles that call this area home.

We saw many turtles sunning themselves, today.

Of course, we were all looking for the alligators, and we did see three today, but they were all pretty skiddish, and didn't let us get too close for photos, but I did manage this picture.

Sorry, this is the best photo I have of the illusive Gator
He jumped in the water as soon as I snapped

Even though we never got to see as many gators as we had hoped, Brian made it so much fun, and so interesting, that we really had a great time on the water.

By the time we got off the boat, we had spent about an hour and a half on the water.  Great value for the $20.00 each that we paid.

Safely on shore, I asked Teresa how she was doing.  Well, the poor dear said she was terrified at times, and every muscle in her body was sore from being so tense !!

Well, alrighty then, we all know that she loves to eat, so how about we go to Riverfront restaurant for something to eat. 

We were soon sitting on the outside deck, talking about all we had seen earlier, and all having a great time.  On Fridays, the margarita's are only 3 dollars each, so Teresa and I  couldn't possible say no to that deal.

We each ordered two different meals, and agreed ahead of time that we would share the tasty offerings.

 I thought I was going to burst, but that didn't stop me from having even more !!  We have not eaten this good two days in a row, in a very long time.

Once again, we skipped supper, and had a piece of fresh pecan pie for a bedtime snack.

That should guarantee sweet dreams, right ??

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Abbeville, Louisiana - Betty's RV Park

We recorded our earliest start yet.  We were on the road with our friends a few minutes before 9:00 am.  I could get used to following along in a caravan, as it was so relaxing knowing our lead vehicle, driven by Ed and Marilyn, would guide us straight to our next stop.

All I had to do was follow Bob and Janet's beautiful Mobile Suites 5th wheel in front of me.  This led to a conversation about how homey a 5th feels, and maybe one is in our future.  We'll see.

When you are part of a caravan of three, there is a good chance that someone is not going to make it through a set of traffic lights, but fortune was smiling on us, as that was not an issue today. Mind you, a couple of those yellows had me flooring my mighty 10 cylinder motor to keep us legal !!

We arrived at Betty's around noon.  After hugs and handshakes, we were all parked up, and ready to eat.  We are in the heart of Cajun country, and although there are a number of great restaurants, we headed to Suire's, well known for their delicious offerings.

Their tasty offerings are written
on the outside of store front
C'mon ladies, we're hungry !!

Inside, half the store is grocery items, and the other side is where they have five or six tables for eating.  It is like taking a step back in time, and Janet and Marilyn both said it reminded them of their family stores when they were growing up.

We noticed on the wall an article from the New York Times, reporting on the excellent food available here.

Bob and Janet trying to be patient
waiting for their food
Marilyn and Ed are all smiles, because they
have been here before, and know what to expect

Teresa and I have never had gumbo before, and when it was brought out, all you could hear was us moaning about the tastefulness of this new found treasure. 

In fact, a lot of today's meal was new to us.  We had catfish, shrimp and crab cakes, deep fried oysters, and crayfish etouffee.  Of course the deep fried shrimp and french fries we have had before ... LOL.

We all enjoyed our meals ( understatement ), and Teresa even bought some shrimp and crab gumbo to put in our freezer to be enjoyed at a later time.

Don't let the styrofoam plates, and plastic cutlery fool you, the food is the main attraction here, and you will not go away hungry or disappointed.

We filed back into our vehicles, all rubbing our over-stuffed tummies, and came home to change into some looser fitting clothes.

Betty is famous for her happy hours, so at 4:30 we all made our way over for a nice visit with a cold beverage.  We enjoyed getting to know some other RV'ers from other parts of the States, and they had a lot of questions for these two wide-eyed Canadians as well.

We returned to our rig, only to agree that we were still full, so for supper, we had a piece of pecan pie that we had bought from Suire's.  It too was very, very good.

It has really cooled off tonight, so we are looking forward to snuggling and sleeping off all this food !

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The French Quarter, New Orleans

Today was the most amazing day we have had to date !!  We don't even know where to begin to describe our adventures.  In all honesty, it was made all the better because we were with two other fun couples.  Teresa and I agree, it would not have been the same if we were on our own.

Marilyn, TnT, and Bob and Janet

First I must address the issue of whether or not it is safe to tour this unique part of the city.  At no time did we feel the least bit nervous or threatened in any way.  I am sure that a person could find trouble if they wanted to, but for the average visitor, I would not hesitate to recommend a visit here.  And to think we almost missed out on the fun, because we had heard it was unsafe.....

Now, Ed and Marilyn have been here before, and with their experience, they made our day a blast.

We started by taking a ferry across the Mississippi, and leaving our cars in a parking lot.  This saved us the stress of driving over the bridge, and finding a place to park.  Plus, the ferry was free !!

Our first glimpse of the French Quarter
as we boarded the ferry

As you can see in the photos, the weather was great.  I don't dare say too hot, because our friends back at home would leave nasty comments, I am sure.  They were forecasting showers, but the rain appeared overnight, and all was calm for our fun today.

As soon as the ferry landed, we took a walk along the river front.  We were getting some sneak peeks at where we were heading.

We were told by numerous people, that we would have to try the beignets ( ben-yays ) from Cafe Du Mond, and boy, were they ever right !!

We were very lucky to be seated right away,
apparently the line-ups get very long

Having never tasted anything like this before, we were in for a real treat.  They definitely lived up to their reputation !

With full tummies, and a little sprinkling of icing sugar on our shirts, we made our way to Jackson Square.  I did not realize it was named after Major General Andrew Jackson.  See, learning can be fun, kids !!

General Jackson

Jackson square is about a block in size.  It is very well maintained, and kept up beautifully.

A real BANANA tree

Beautiful fountain in Jackson Square

Right across the cobblestone walkway is the
St Louis Cathedral.

You are allowed to enter the sanctuary.  Here, we all took a moment out from our fun and laughter, to quietly reflect and give thanks for all we have to be grateful for.  We departed with a deep sense of peace, for sure.

Soon after, we walked up and down Bourbon street, and marveled at all the old buildings, and shops.

The other food recommendation from all sorts of people, are the Muffulettas from Central Grocery.  Again, these are not to be missed.  Yes, there is a line up for them, and yes, it is worth the wait.

Within minutes, these performed a disappearing act !

So, are we glad we made the extra effort to visit the Big Easy.... a resounding yes to that one.  You cannot describe the atmosphere here.  At times it is almost festive.  There is music everywhere, street performers, and just a lot of people having fun, and soaking it all up.  You must come experience it for yourself.  Period.

A human statue...he was awesome

We made it home in the late afternoon, and gathered around for a drink, and to share a few laughs.

I snuck up on this fella in our park
but it seemed like he was too busy
eating to worry about me

We are all heading out tomorrow to Betty's RV Park, another item on our must-do list.  After today, that leaves 998 more items to go !