Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Wednesday September 20, 2017-Roadrunner RV Park

Today a large group of us went to the Oklahoma City National Memorial Museum in downtown OKC. This a very moving and meaningful place for me. I can relate to the rescues, and later the recovery of the victims as well as the arrest and conviction of Timothy McVeigh, Terry Nichols and Michael Fortier for the crimes committed.

A diagram of the area.

Photo of the destroyed Federal Building.

The above two displays are artifacts recovered from the rubble with photos in the background.

I'm sorry that the photos are on their side. This is a key piece of evidence that was found in the wreckage, actually on the street. It is the actual rear axle from the Ryder truck that had been loaded with over two tons of explosives and detonated. The VIN of the truck had been inscribed on the axle, which led authorities to locate the truck rental form and obtain McVeigh's name.

These are items used to amputate a woman's leg after she was trapped under a huge pillar. The tools consisted of a handled scalpel, some string or small rope to make a tourniquet and a small pocket knife. The procedure is described below if you can read it. 

Newspaper headlines and articles on the attack.

Many rescue and search dogs were used to locate victims in the rubble.

A famous photo of a firefighter cradling a baby. The photo became so popular that someone made a statue of the figure.

This is the shirt that McVeigh was wearing when he was arrested by Oklahoma State Trooper Charles Hanger. Description and information is shown below.

The above is an explanation of the events of McVeigh's arrest. 

The yellow Mercury that McVeigh was driving when making his getaway from Oklahoma City.

Weapons being carried by McVeigh when he was arrested. The weapons, a Glock .45 caliber handgun and a large knife were both being carried concealed and recovered by Trooper Hanger. 

The three photos above are handwritten notes and a pair of earplugs found in McVeigh's car. They were admitted into evidence in his trial and carry tags from the court.

This faint marking is found on  building, left there on 4-19-95 by Search Team 5. Very poignant memories of a horrible time.

The survivor tree remains outside the building. After the bombing attack the tree had most of its leaves blown off and was damaged by the force of the blast, yet it remained alive as an inspiration to others.

A better photo of The Survivor Tree.

This statue is titled "And Jesus Wept. A sorrowful reminder of the 168 people that died including 19 children.

This Museum was very moving to me. I related to the many searchers that found survivors as well as recovered bodies. I really related to the investigators that worked to gather evidence to build an airtight case against the monster Timothy McVeigh which resulted in his execution just four years after his conviction. Good job people!

As you can tell, this museum had a powerful effect on me, bringing back memories of my own cases and arrests and making me proud of my career.

So long.

Tuesday September 19, 2017-Roadrunner RV Park

After we arrived here in Oklahoma City, Stella noticed something hanging down from under the trailer. I crawled under and found two of the springs were broken on both sides of the trailer. Wow!

The above picture is of the door side (right side looking forward) axle and below is the off door side (left side looking forward).

I don't know exactly where, when or why they broke, but it must have been near here because one of the springs had hit the brake line, splitting it. There was little brake fluid found under the trailer and the brake fluid reservoir was full, so it had to have just happened.

Luckily for us, our friend Ron Russell, owner of Performance Trailer Brakes, who had also added our disk brakes last year, is also staying here in this park and he offered one of his employees to purchase the springs and install them here while we are attending the rally. Thank you God for good friends that can help you out.

This is the first major problem that we have had in a long time. 

I would also like to add a memory of John Sager. John was the entertainer that we hired last year for the Region rally in Branson. He played the Branson strip and lived in Branson but went to the Rio Grande Valley of Texas for the winter season. He passed away this weekend from a massive heart attack at the age of 47. He was a great entertainer and singer and he will be greatly missed.
Rest in Peace John

So long.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Monday September 18, 2017-Moving Day-Center RV Park to Roadrunner RV Park, Oklahoma City Oklahoma

Today is the day that we've been waiting on since April 9th. We're finally back on the rally trail since my eyes broke while we were in Mountain View Arkansas. As you will remember, I developed a problem called "Third Nerve Palsy" or Bell's Palsy in my right eye, causing some serious double vision. We came back to Dickinson thanks to Dave and Nancy, who brought our trailer back, with Stella driving our truck all the way from Arkansas.

To finish up this recap, I sped-up my already scheduled cataract surgery and recovered from the Palsy and we left Dickinson about two weeks before hurricane Harvey devastated the area. After leaving Dickinson, we spent time visiting with our friends Bill and Ornell at their home and then going to Breaux Bridge La. to visit with other friend David and Susan & Andy and Joanna.

From Louisiana we came to Center to visit my Aunt Janie and had a great time there. Center is a very small town in east Texas and everyone there is so friendly! My maternal grandmother is from Center and we visited here often when I was young. In fact, my parents moved us to Center when I was about 1.

We went to church at the First Baptist church and after three weeks of being in town, we felt like church members. It is refreshing to have folks that wave to you or greet you on the street when you don't know them. Gotta love it!

Other than being deluged by love bugs when we drove up from Louisiana and having the large (100 gallon) fuel tank start leaking, it was a pretty uneventful visit. I got the front of the trailer washed and the truck was washed by a service man in town that Janie knows and who takes care of her car. 

We weren't exactly idle while in Center. We made two trips over to Tyler, once to meet with cousin Linda and her husband Doug and their families for the Labor Day celebration and the second time for a doctor visit for Janie. We went over to Shreveport La. for a shopping trip but the highlight of the trip was a day trip back to Dickinson to pick up my new glasses and to see all the hurricane damage. Wow, what a mess!

Today's trip was long (387 miles!) but uneventful. We only made two stops at state rest areas but upon arrival here in Oklahoma City, I discovered that one of my springs on the trailer had broken. Stay tuned for the repair information on this problem.

So long.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Thursday September 7, 2017-Center RV Park

Stella and I made a trip down to the Dickinson area to pick up my new glasses. I got these after my cataract surgery, when my prescription changed after the surgery. They were ready on the Monday after the storm came in, but I didn't want to get in the way of rescue workers and I wanted to see first-hand the damage done to the area. 

We began our tour at the Bay Colony RV Park that we had left a couple of weeks before the storm hit. I had talked to one of the employees by phone and learned that there had been a lot of water in the park but we saw little damage to the remaining trailers. We noticed several empty sites that had been occupied when we left but we don't know if they had left before the storm or had been damaged and removed. The above photo is the private storage area next door, which is the main business of this company. AS you can plainly see, folks got lots of water in their storage buildings, and the discarded items were piled up at the rear fence for removal.

The check-in lady at the entrance. I'm not sure whether she is checking people in to prevent looters from entering or registering people for FEMA help or for insurance.

The check-in booths. There is another table behind the man standing beside the pickup truck.

This is an insurance company table at a convenience store that is near the RV park. I am sure that there are more scattered through town.

This is the famous Heartbreakers "gentleman's" club. They had some damage as seen by the pile of discarded items out by the road.

Huge piles if trash are everywhere. This was taken at a strip center on FM 517.

More trash piles along 517. Notice the large trash truck going down the road to pick up another load. While driving around town I noticed many out if town work trucks, including clean-up services, and other disaster-related workers.

I remember after Ike, seeing these huge trucks with an extending claw to pick up these piles. The truck towed a large trailer where the debris was placed before running it to the dump. 

Both of the above photos were taken on a street near our neighborhood. We have friends that live on the street but fortunately there was no debris in front of our friend's house.

This was the far end of Winding Brook Dr., the street we lived on. As you can see, the Serve-Pro guys are getting a lot of business here.

The damage is heartbreaking and unbelievable. We lived on this street for over 25 years and never saw anything like this.

That is our old house on the left. I remember one rainstorm that dropped a lot of rain on Dickinson that caused water to get into the garage of our house. We had a tiny amount of Sheetrock damage done but nothing else. We were not in this house during Hurricane Alicia, and it hadn't even been built then. We lived here during Hurricane Ike but I don't know how high the water got because I was working and had taken Stella to safety at a friend's house in Port Arthur.

This is the site of a closed-down furniture store that is being used as a temporary dump site for debris. I know that FEMA will help the cities with the costs of the cleanup, as well as overtime pay for city employees, but the work must go on even though the costs are enormous. 

I wish we had time to spend more time in the area to record the damage. 

By the way, my glasses fit very well and are great! 

So long.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Friday September 1, 2017-Center RV Park

Man what a week! We arrived here in Center on August 24th and hurricane Harvey hit the Rockport/Port Aransas area on Saturday the 26th. Talk about good timing! Of course, the area of Louisiana where we were was pretty much undamaged, certainly not the damage seen in the Beaumont/Port Arthur area of Texas and NOTHING like the damage in the Houston area.

Our old hometown, Dickinson Tx. was the epicenter of some of the news sources. As it turned out, several news people were in Galveston in preparation for the arrival of the storm but ran into some high water, causing them to have to stop in Dickinson. There was plenty of storm coverage from  there and I'm sure that the entire country is aware of the small town where we lived. And please keep in mind that we only left Dickinson on August 9th but the storm hadn't even been born then. We saw boats in front of the RV park on the highway but I don't know how the park itself came out. I have tried to call to check on them but the phones are out. I can only hope that our friends there didn't have damage.

Remember that we left Dickinson for our friends Bill and Ornell's house in Port Arthur. We stayed with them for several days before going to Breaux Bridge, and knew that they were in a low area, with a levee with a set of floodgates cross the road that is about a mile from their home. HERE is a video that their daughter-in-law posted on Facebook showing damage and a picture of the floodgates. Folks outside the levee were flooded, and remember, it's only about a mile away!

Wow, so many places that we just left that had substantial damage and flooding! Maybe it's time for us to go back to Vegas or at least buy a lottery ticket!

We have been blessed in Center. We had heavy rains, with my rain gauge measuring about 25", but we had no flooding or high winds. Some minor ponding of water here at the park but there was only an inch or so of water there. We did meet some folks that had evacuated from Dickinson for the storm. Ironic...

Aunt Janie donated some water and supplies through her church. I took her to Wal Mart and we delivered them to the drop-off point. Janie learned that a large group of evacuees was housed at the Hampton Inn in Center. She and Stella prepared some food which we brought up to the hotel for them to have some home cooked food to eat.

I am just in AWE of the volunteers, the Cajun Navy, Red Neck Navy and many others that came to Texas at their own expense to help with evacuations. Then football star J J Watt organized a fund drive which has raised over $11 million for hurricane Harvey relief. Unbelievable! 

Seeing people buckling down and going to work to clean up and start the recovery process. I remember the assistance that I got after hurricane Ike when I was still working and how much I appreciated it. This was the first hurricane of my adult life that I didn't have to work during the storm. That's not quite right because we had to evacuate during hurricane Rita in 2005, which was like work to me. I had to drive for 19 hours straight to make it to Spring Tx. where our trailer was and then drive another 8 hours to make it about 25 miles where we rode out the storm. I met Stella and Kim during the evacuation of Dickinson for Tropical Storm Claudette, which dropped over 43" of rain on Alvin Tx. and flooded Dickinson, and my work hasn't stopped since then!

Again, I am so thankful and grateful to God for sparing us from damage or injury.

So long.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Wednesday August 23, 2017-Moving Day-Poche's Fish N Camp to Center RV Park, Center Tx.

The day finally arrived that we had to pack up and leave our friends in Louisiana. We have had such a nice time with them, although oppressively hot. But what do you expect in Texas and Louisiana in August?

We went out to eat a couple of times, once to Pat's of Henderson, a very good Cajun restaurant with a nice view of the river and gators swimming by, and the second at Poche's Restaurant and Market in Breaux Bridge. Poche's is also owned by Ornell's uncle who formerly owned the RV park where we are staying. The food here in Louisiana is fabulous! If you've never been, you owe it to yourself to make this trip. I like this area much better than New Orleans. It is much less crowded here and Way less touristy! 

We were up and going around 7 this morning, but since we have about 225 miles to go, with most of it on freeway, we were able to take it easy. Bill and David, however, had mowing and chores to do when they got home and with a tropical storm brewing in the Gulf, they wanted to get things finished before the rains came. Just another reason to love our full-time lifestyle! 

As soon as we hit the road, we ran into those darn love bugs. You can see the results below. I took a picture of the windshield, which was also covered, but they had been washed off several times so that I could see to drive and most of the bugs were gone. 

I thought about counting them but you might find the number of the pesky little bugs astounding. I will take on the clean up as soon as I can.

Now that we're here in Center, it's time to spend time with family.

So long.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Friday August 18, 2017-Moving Day-Sim's Home to Poche's Fish N Camp, Breaux Bridge LA

Well, we are officially back on the road. We spent 9 days at Bill and Ornell's house and had a great time with them. One of the best things was the fact that we didn't run out of room in our waste water tanks in this time, which is a good thing!

We were up pretty early to get started on the moving day chores and actually hit the leaving-time exactly, 9:30. It is only about 124 miles to Poche's and we made very good time on the road. We only made one stop, at a place called Peto's Travel Center in Roanoke La. for their famous food. We tried the boudin balls, stuffed with cheese and a jalapeno, the pistolettes, which are fried rolls stuffed with etouffee and of course, cracklins' which are fried bacon rind or pig skin and all were very tasty. 

We got to Poche's about 1 PM and soon got set up, and man, is it hot here! I got a good sweat soaking at Bill's house while packing up and it was much hotter here. It went pretty well and I was through and cooling off about 2.

We sat around and visited with Bill & Ornell and David and Susan, who arrived just after we did and then a bit later in the afternoon, Andy and Joanna arrived and the group was complete. I forgot to mention that Bill and Ornell's daughter and her husband and three grandsons had also come and were here when we arrived. 

This RV park belonged to Ornell's uncle until he sold it a couple of years ago. Her aunt still works here, so it was a family reunion for them. The place is very picturesque, with ponds behind all of the RV sites. The ponds began as craw fish ponds and now are stocked with fish. Fishing is free and the rates are reasonable, so it's a nice place to stay. It should be a nice and quiet few days. Oh, and plenty of good ol' Cajun food!

So long.