Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Sunday March 18, 2018-Whistle Stop RV Resort

This will be another catch-up post for the remainder of the West Texas Chapter rally in Abilene.

On Friday, we paid a visit to the Dyess Air Force Base today and were disappointed to learn that no photographs are allowed on base. I understand the fact that current, on duty planes should not be photographed, but there is a large collection of retired airplanes on base that are not allowed to be photo'd. There are other air museums with these same planes on display and they can be pictured. I don't get it...

We did get to tour the inside of a C-130 large cargo plane and heard from a female Load Master and another female Pilot of these huge planes. Very interesting. I am impressed that women are allowed these roles. Guess I'm old school.

We also got to witness a B-1 bomber taking off, actually several of them, taking off for training missions. These things are LOUD! and very impressive.

The photo above is the actual museum which is located off base. It is very small but has a nice variety of items on display.

Above and below are a couple of bombs that are on display in the museum. I believe the one above is what is known as a smart bomb that can be guided in to a target. Below is a 750 pound high explosive bomb that would probably do a lot of damage.

On Saturday we visited the Frontier Museum of Abilene. This is a very interesting museum with great audio and video displays. Their IMAX type production is great and very popular.

Stella in front of an old stage coach. And no, she never actually rode on one!

This is the route of the Overland Stagecoach route. It was used to carry both passengers and cargo and mail to points in the east to the west coast of the United States.

A typical cowboy camp, found throughout the west. 

There was a large collection of guns, rifles, shotguns and handguns, on display. I'm not going to say much about the collection, but it is impressive.

Tony and Erika did an outstanding job on this rally. Everyone had a great time and there was plenty to do. This park is brand new but is well set up and easy to navigate. My only complaint is that the gravel is still very loose and hard to walk on, but in time it will be fine. We are looking forward to more rallies in the "West of the Rest" chapter.

So long.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Wednesday March 14, 2018-Whistle Stop RV Resort

We slept in this morning, until after 8! It's cool at night here and cold in the morning, but it sure is good sleeping. Dave T. came over early for a visit and he and I went for a walk around the park. The walking was pretty hard because of all the new gravel throughout the park, but we still walked almost 2 miles. There is a lady that Dave has talked to that walks her two dogs a total of 5 miles a day. Wow, I'm in awe, not so much for the distance but for the walking surface. I don't think I could do that far every day.

The weather has been good here, with cool/cold nights that warm into the 70's with clear skies. I just visited with friends and just generally took it easy. Later in the afternoon about 20 of us went to an expensive steak house in Buffalo Gap called Perini Ranch. It had received rave reviews from others that had gone there, but I was not that impressed. When our waiter took the orders for food, he used his own method for distributing the food when it came out. The problem was that other waiters helped him and everything got fouled up. As a result, most of the food sat on serving trays for a long time and the food got cold. I thought the food was grossly overpriced, with several $30-40 steaks. I chose a hamburger steak, one of the less expensive dishes, but at $19 for an 8oz. steak with green beans, it should have been better. Rant over.

We returned home and since everyone was full from supper, we all went in and retired for the night. Many more rally-goers will arrive tomorrow and the rally officially begins on Friday.

So long.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Monday March 12, 2018-Moving Day-Top o' the Hill RV Park to Whistle Stop RV Park

Wow, it got chilly in Boerne tonight. By the way, if you're not familiar with this town, it's pronounced Burnee. It was named after a German/Jewish author and publicist.
It was about 51 degrees here when I went out to take down the utilities that we used overnight, and I was glad I had blue jeans and a sweatshirt on this morning. The people in this park are very friendly and helpful and one of the men gave me suggestions for negotiating the roads to exit the park, which was appreciated.

We were soon traveling on I-10 and made quick time of the 214 miles that we had to travel today. We only made one pit stop in one of the small towns that we went through. I found a nice parking lot for a closed-down business, so we used it to stop and use the trailer facilities. 

We made it here about 1PM and in short order, I was hooked up and ready to start the party. There were several Heartlanders here when we arrived and a few more arrived after we did. Mike and Peg fixed brats and sausage with potato salad for our evening meal and everyone had a fine time visiting and chatting with old and new friends. We stayed outside until the sun started going down and the temps started dropping.

We're glad that the rally season has started. Let the parties begin!

So long.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Sunday March 11, 2018-Moving Day-Cottonwood RV Park to Top 'o the Hill RV Park, Boerne

Well, the day finally arrived and the rally season is starting. We traveled with Dave and Nancy again, well, at least we had plans to, but stuff happens! We both forgot to reset the clocks to daylight savings time. Actually, the only two items with clocks that I use are my computer and my I-phone and both of them (supposedly) update automatically. I woke about 5:20 and got up, thinking I had plenty of time to read the news and weather before having to get started packing. Stella woke and realized that the time was all wrong, so I had to go next door and tell Dave what had happened. He had done most of his work yesterday and didn't have much to do this morning. I had done much of my outside work and MY work was also almost done, however Stella was way behind! Oh well...

We had agreed to be ready to go at 9 and I assume it was a little before that when Dave and Nancy pulled out. I finished up my work and Stella worked hard on her part, and we actually pulled out at 9:01, but it was the old time, not DST. Traffic was light in the Mission/McAllen area and we made good time. We made the mandatory stop at the INS checkpoint near Falfurrias and just a few miles after that, we made our first pit stop at a rest area that we normally stop at. 

The scenery along the highway was very pretty, with gold and yellow buds in the trees and a small scattering of bluebonnets in the median and some road shoulders. The roads were pretty smooth and traffic light, and we saw very few State Troopers. I think most of them were working in the valley, judging by he number of troopers we saw.

We made our last stop at another rest area north of Three Rivers in the Whittset area. Wow, what a difference a couple of hundred miles made in the weather. It had been in the lower 80's in Mission, but here it was about 70 and by the time we arrived here at the Top 'o the Hill, it had fallen to the low 60's and quite windy. We had been dealing with the wind for awhile today, blowing the trailer round and absolutely killing my fuel mileage. Hey, that's the life of a traveling RV'er!

When we arrived here, we met an old friend that recently moved here from another park in Boerne. Ricky Cobb has been our friend for over ten years and we had lost touch with him when he moved away from Spring, and it was good to see him again. He ran some errands and came by our place to chat, and we got all caught up with him. 

It feels good to be back out on the road! the rally season opens...

So long.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Saturday March 10, 2018-Cottonwood RV Park

No, I haven't suffered a breakdown or died, but we have been steadily busy. Far too busy to keep up with this daily record of what we have done. I envy those that Do keep up with their own blogs, but I couldn't do it. We start the rally season tomorrow, so we'll be traveling again and I'll do better.

The first thing I did was finish up with my dental work. If you remember, I was supposed to have come down here back in the summer to have my final work done, but my eyes broke and I had to get them taken care of and had to change my plans. 

The work that I had done was really pretty simple. They took a new impression of my mouth and made me a complete new set of teeth. This one fits much better and will be my final set, I hope...  This procedure took about four trips over to Progresso Mx. to get completed, but it's so much less expensive there than in the states, it worth it!

We ate out a lot-probably too much, but we had fun and ate lots of the local cuisine. We also ate at some of our favorite chain restaurants, Cheddar's, Cracker Barrel and took Stella to the Salt Grass Steakhouse for her birthday on February 27th. Just for the record, she's older than me again...

We've found several local eateries that are on our list of favorites now, Gonzales Burgers, has been for awhile, a new burger place called The Ranch House; they have an amazing menu of sandwiches and Mexican food(of course), Martha's Family Tacqueria, another long-time favorite; Bubba's, a local favorite watering hole with delicious sandwiches and a pizza special one night a week, NaNa's Tacqueria in Weslaco, a small Mexican restaurant that is popular when returning from old Mexico, Stella and I ate in Mexico at Rene's Tacqueria; we found a great Mexican restaurant, the Casa Del Marisco in Weslaco that Dave and Nancy had found on their summer trip down here. They have some of the best Mexican food that we have had down here! We ate breakfast with our park resident group at Rosie's Restaurant in Mission and found another breakfast restaurant called the Diaz Diner, also in Mission. Both had excellent food with a definite Mexican attitude. As you can see, we ate a wide variety of food but mostly Mexican. We are in the Rio Grande Valley, after all and only a couple of miles from the border where we are staying.

Our friends Tommy and Susan came down for a week or so and brought some friends and acquaintances with them that we know, Les and Terri. We had a nice time with them and introduced them to the Ropas shopping experience. If I haven't told you about the Ropas, or have forgotten about them, they are a very interesting store. There are Ropas Usadas (used clothing) and Ropas Nuevo (new clothing). They are collected by various means and sold either by the piece at a very heavily discounted price or sold for 20-30 cents a pound for theused clothes. When you can buy a pile of clothes for 2-3 dollars, it's hard to beat!We know people that buy some very nice pieces there, but it's luck to find something. The stores bring huge bales of clothes out with a forklift and the "regulars", Mexican women, fly onto the new items, seeking put sizes and colors of the clothes they are seeking. Interesting but not my cup of tea, but fun to watch.

I told you about buying a Hum unit for the truck. It saved us from having a problem later on the road. We have had a check engine light on for a long time and no one could tell me what the problem was until now. The Hum revealed a second code for low fuel rail pressure, so I took it to Payne Dodge to be checked out. Our Service Advisor, Carlos, took good care of us. A technician checked on the two  CEL's and found that the low fuel pressure had reset itself, possibly trash in the fuel, or some other ailment that went away, but the other light was for a catalytic converter problem with the actual catalyst material needing to be replaced. This is part of the government-forced emissions equipment, so I had a choice to replace it at the Dodge dealer and keep it legal or take to a place called Spike Performance in nearby Pharr Tx. and have all the emissions equipment deleted and removed. This would have made the truck illegal to get rid of-no dealer would take it in that condition-and worse-yet, if stopped by the police, it could result in the truck being red-tagged until the emissions equipment was replaced and a very high fine imposed. I chose to have Payne Motors do the work and they furnished us with a very nice little Dodge Journey to drive while the truck was being repaired. There was a foul-up with the needed parts and it took a few days for the repairs to be made, but we picked it up on a Friday but didn't make it home before the CEL came back on with the same code. I called Carlos and took the truck back on Monday. We got the same Journey back to drive and they replaced a few more parts and the truck runs like a new one now, and no more check engine lights! It was expensive, but we feel more confident now that the truck will be dependable and should last us a long time (knock on wood).
We visited with old friends Mike and Linda, who just bought a mobile home that is set in a very nice park in Mercedes Tx. We met the while we all park-hosted at Inks Lake a few years ago. It was good to catch up with them and we had a nice visit.

I have been walking 2-3 miles a day here and really enjoying it. I walked over to Retama Village one day and ran into Ted and Donna and had a nice chat with them. We have been so busy, as they are too, and haven't had a chance to spend any time with them, but we'll all be back next season.

We went to a performance of the group Southern Anthem at the Green Gate Grove RV Park, near our park. This is a small family group that does country, bluegrass and gospel music and they are very talented. We went to two performances in our own park, one by Dale and Gayle that put on a pretty good show. They were a bit hokey, but it was a donation-only performance, so it was pretty good. The other performance was by Norma Gonzales, doing a Patsy Cline show. She, unfortunately, had some problems with remembering the words to the songs, seemed to be bothered by the heat (felt pretty comfortable to me, but I wasn't singing) and had a major malfunction with her wig, which came off. Actually, it just got loose and she took it off, but it was a pretty pitiful performance, another donation-only show. 

We have had a great time with our Heartland friends that are here in the valley with us. We formed a Facebook group so that we could communicate and plan get-togethers and have had a lot of fun. We will see them later in the rally season at some upcoming rallies.

It has been another good time in the valley, although the weather didn't cooperate for the first month-six weeks. It snowed on us the day we arrived and was cold and dreary for a long time. It has warmed up nicely in the past couple of weeks and actually reached 88 today!

We leave in the morning for Abilene and the West Texas chapter rally. It should be a fun time and we are looking forward to the rally season.

So long.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Friday January 26, 2018-Cottonwood RV Park

We did the two events that we have planned for our stay in the valley, a dealer open house at the Ron Hoover RV dealership on Wednesday and a Meet and Greet at Retama Village Resort on Thursday.

The Hoover event has been going on for several years, but I feel that it may be running out of steam. Attendance has been going down for the past two or three years and the dealer has been cutting back on their Heartland inventory. At any rate, we had about 50 people here, including some other brand owners, some friends and some relatives of Heartland owners. Jason had his mother and father attend, and they were the lucky winner of one of the door prizes. Jason is the chapter leader for the north Texas chapter. I was happy to meet them and glad they won a prize. Perhaps they will convert and buy themselves a Heartland trailer. 

The Meet and Greet has been rather off and on for about the same number of years as the open house, but we missed a few years when Ken and Kathy, owners of a lot at Retama, were unavailable to reserve the meeting room. This year's get-together was pretty short notice. I knew that Ken and Kathy were trying to buy place near Buchanan Dam in the Hill country, close to Inks Lake and intended to sell their place at Retama. I assumed (I know, I know) that the purchase of the new place had gone through but as it turned out, the deal had fallen through literally at the last minute. When I found out about it, I immediately went to work to organize this one. We only had about a month to get the word out and still had about 12 couples, a pretty good group! We all bought food to share and we had everything from a delicious soup to chips and dip and several desserts. As usual, everything was delicious and we all had a good time. 

The weather has been bad in the valley this year and there was no letup today. It was cool and rainy, so sitting outside was out of the question, but we set up a few more tables and chairs, so there was plenty of room for all of us inside where it was warm and dry.

We plan on staying home and relaxing for a few days, but as usual, that's subject to change, just like the weather. I'll keep you posted.

So long.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Tuesday January 23, 2018-Cottonwood RV Park

Our first couple of days here were pretty low-key, mainly because of the cold weather that had followed us down. Stella and I drove over to Donna on Wednesday to see Dustin Hoover at the Ron Hoover RV dealership to go over the plans for the dealer open house next week. From there we drove over to the fruit stand across Don-Wes flea market to buy some grapefruit. We love the Ruby-Red grapefruit and couldn't wait to get some. The flea market was open today but you'd never know it by looking at the parking lot. There were only about 6 cars there and most of the outside booths were closed. The fruit stand was open and doing a fair amount of business but the building is just about empty. There used to be many booths with everything from books to RV supplies. There were two women's clothing stores which were either closed or gone. The doors were closed and we didn't venture in.

On Thursday we drove over to a Verizon store in McAllen, where we met a very helpful young man named Jose, to buy a Hum device. This thing should be a good value to us, giving navigation information, service reminders for the truck, diagnosing vehicle warnings, giving us a hands-free telephone but most of all, giving us a way to contact emergency services in case of an accident. We were told that they now just call the police and EMS if the air bags deploy, without wasting time by calling us first. It can also be useful for roadside service and there is a way to connect to a technician to help with roadside problems. The device is inexpensive, only $30 and the service is $10 per month. 

Friday the weather was dreadful, with overcast skies and cool temperatures. It started to warm up in the afternoon so t least we were able to come out of hibernation and get outside for a while. 

Saturday, Dave, Lin and Corbin had their trailers washed and waxed, so all the guys went from trailer to trailer to watch them work. These guys were funny, making jokes and clowning around, but they did an excellent job of cleaning the rigs. One of their wives brought some tamales that they shared with us. Her mother-in-law made them and they were delicious. It's good business to give away a half dozen tamales because all of us will order from her in the future. Mike and I made arrangements to have our trailers cleaned on the 31st. These guys are booked up until then. Business is good!

Saturday night we went to the Restful Valley RV Park with Corbin & Flora and Dean and Cheri to see Bill Chrastil perform his show there. He does salutes to Elvis, Conway Twitty, Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison and many others and has a great show. He won awards for Male vocalist of the year in 2016 and Entertainer of the year last year. His show is worth seeing if you have a chance to see him.

Sunday we had a potluck supper of barbecued ribs and assorted vegetable dishes, and as usual, it was delicious. We watched the football championship after the meal and enjoyed the game. I haven't watched much football this season and it was good to see some games again. The cool temps sent everyone in pretty early but it was a nice day.

Monday we made our first trip to Mexico and it was really pretty routine. It was the first trip for Mike & Peg and Deb & Lin, so it was a "show and tell". Stella said Mike & Peg may have been to MX many years ago. Lin got his hair cut while over there and I made an appointment with my dentist to do my follow-up visit that I had cancelled this past summer. I got my shoes shined for our get-togethers later in the week, but all in all, a very uneventful and boring trip. 

We went to Na Na's Taqueria for some real Tex-Mex food. We came here last year and enjoyed ourselves, and they have remodeled the store, making it bigger with a large outdoor dining area, where we ate.  

Today (Tuesday) we went to the Pulga flea mkt. This is primarily a Mexican market but they have a lot of interesting stuff to look at. I bought a new case for my cell phone and a new pocket knife, but the best thing was, while shopping, I found a booth that had some puppies. The next thing I knew, I was the proud owner of a new 8 month old Chihuahua that I named Lady. Now we have Lady and the Tramp! Pictures and more details to come...

So long.