Friday, February 27, 2009

Friday February 27, 2008

I woke early again and read the news on the Internet. Stella woke about 8 o'clock and I sang her Happy Birthday. I went for a walk around the park and had some coffee with Ted and Donna. Stella came down later and had some coffee and we decided what we were going to do today.

We decided to run some errands that we had been putting off. First, we went to the Donna City Hall because Donna wanted to have her picture taken there.

We then went to the Santa Ana National Wildlife Reserve where Stella and I both got our senior passes that allow us to camp for half price and enter national wildlife parks and preserves for free. We saw a short film on what is available at this park and left.

We then went down to Hidalgo where we found Pepe's on the River, a small cafe that is located right on the Rio Grande river. We ate a tasty lunch there, and Ted and Donna showed off their dancing skills by doing the waltz to the sounds of "Waltz Across Texas with You in my Arms", a song made famous by Ernest Tubbs and played by the local band. Ted got the singer to sing Happy Birthday to Stella, so we all had a good laugh about it. We went down to the river to look at the fish and turtles in the water before we left.

After lunch, Stella and Donna had seen several Ropa Usadas (used clothing) stores. These places buy clothing of all sorts in bulk by the pound and sell it the same way, by the pound. Periodically during the day, workers bring out a forklift full of clothes which the women immediately jump into looking for any items of interest. I saw a couple of guys just lying back in these huge piles of clothes, possibly waiting for their wives to finish "shopping" and taking it easy. Donna bought a few things and I looked for a birthday present for Stella but couldn't find anything so we left.

We went over to Mission and I took Ted and Donna to Tom's new site at the Mission West RV park. We went to the Retama Village community where we went into an open house for a house with an attached carport for an RV/motorhome. It was nice, but no sale. We then drove through the Bentsen Palms Village where Ted and Donna had stayed on one of their previous trips to the valley.

A stop at the Wal Mart finished up our day. I think one of the guys we had seen at the ropa usada had followed us, perhaps to steal Donna's clothes that she had bought, because we saw him in the store. Just kidding.....

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Thursday February 26, 2008-Donna Texas

We woke this morning and had our breakfast in the trailer. Stella is getting really good on the new half-time oven, and made us a breakfast pizza. She takes crescent roll dough and spreads it out in the bottom of a pan, then takes eggs, bacon bits and cheese that is beaten and pours it into the dough and bake it. They turn out real good and are easy to make.

Last night, I got an email from Janie about Aunt Frat. She had told me that Frat has been sick since Christmas, but since she's 95 years old, sickness is expected. They had done some tests on her back when she first got sick, but had missed a cancer in the base of her brain, that is pretty much inoperative. Janie gave me Frat's cell phone number and I called her. She said they are taking her to Dallas on Monday so a decision can be made about her treatment. She isn't a quitter and won't give up hope, that's for sure. I hope I'm still around at 95.

I talked to Donna this morning, and they are on their way. About 10 o'clock they were near Kingsville. I told her to call me when they get close and I'll walk down and guide them into the site.

Ted and Donna arrived about 1 o'clock. We got them backed in and parked soon after without any problems. Wwe made ;plans for the rest of the afternoon to go to the luau that had been planned for this afternoon. "Happy hour" started at 4 o'clock. We all met in the hall and found our assigned table. We had a good time at the potluck supper until dessert time, when I found out that we weren't allowed to eat anything that our table didn't bring. Someonme had brought a good looking lemon meringue pie and Donna asked me to get her a piece of it when I went to get dessert. There was only one piece of lemon left, and I took a small piece of when this little old lady with an attitude like a tiger shark came up and jumped all over me for taking items that were "across the line" from our food. I told her that I was sorry and didn't know the rules for this potluck and that it wouldn't happen again. Needless to say, I put her pie back and didn't take anything else for the rest of the night.
I have never been to a potluck dinner before where people were restricted to what they had brought. I have probably hosted 40-50 potluck dinners and have attended more than that, and have neveer been put down like this lady did. I probably won't go back to any more potlucks at this park.

Sorry to leave on such a sour note, but right now, I'm mad.

Sunday February 22-Wednesday Feb. 25

Sunday morning we got up and ate breakfast in the trailer. We just lazed around all day long in the trailer. There was a performance by the "kitchen band" a group of people from here in the park. It was pretty good, with lots of old jokes and skits that everyone has seen before, but it was still good and best of all, free!

Monday we stayed around the trailer in the morning. Our next door neighbor, Ivan came over and sat around with me, working on all of the world's problems. We went over to Mission West with Tom and Judy around 2:00 to see the new site they have bought there. It's a nice park that is being developed one site at a time. There was a birthday party for Monna by her husband Gene, the guitar player for the jam session. We sat around outside for awhile, eating birthday cake. When we left, we drove over to some of the other parks in the area, Bentsen Grove, where our friends Bob and Pat Curry are staying, Retama Village, a VERY nice park with casitas, where our friends Ken and Kathy Adams are staying. We met an RV celebrity, Jack Mayer while driving through Retama Village. He is a big contributor to the Escapee's site and pulls a large Teton with his HDT. We also drove through Bentsen Palms Village, another upscale park with many Heartland trailer there.

Tuesday, Bob and Pat Curry came over to visit. They just got down to the valley and are just looking around, trying to make up their mind about parks to stay at in the area. We went to lunch with them at the Furr's buffet where we had gone for the Heartland luncheon. we returned to our trailer where Bob and I installed the router, so both of our computers can access the Internet at the same time. It works perfectly, and will be a good addition to our equipment.

Wednesday, I took my truck to Air Horns of Texas to have a new train horn installed. Tom came to pick me up in the morning and brought Stella and I back about one o'clock to pick the truck up.
I dare you to cut me off now.....
We went to the grocery store for the first time since we've been here. There are several HEB stores in the area, but so far, all we've done is go to Wal Mart to pick up a few grocery items.

Ted and Donna finally got their truck woes sorted out and left today about noon. They plan to stay overnight at Victoria and come into Donna tomorrow.

so long for now,

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Saturday February 21, RGValley

We woke up to rainy weather this morning. The park had a breakfast buffet today so we walked down to eat. Tom and Judy are scheduled to go on an island cruise down into Mexico. Tom won the trip here in the park. The tickets are $40.00 per person, which is not so bad when you get a boat ride and then a catered meal on an island. This same trip, or one like it, was offered to us when we had our CEAT conference at South Padre Island. We didn't schedule it because we didn't know how many would want to participate.

Donna called to tell us that their truck is still acting up. They had loaded everything up in the fridge yesterday in preparation to coming down here, and had to take the trailer back to storage and plug it in when the truck overheated again. She said that they got about a mile down the road this morning and it started again and now they don't feel confident in it any more. I can relate to that!

We met a nice guy at breakfast, Duane Mesch. He is down here in the Valley from Iowa. He work camps in the summer at a county park in Jones County Iowa and invited us to stop by to see him this summer. If we get in the area, we will.

It started raining as soon as we got back to the trailer this morning and should continue all day long with a cold front coming in this evening. It should make for a day to just lay around the trailer and read. Stella said she is going to do the laundry later, and I may get her to cut my hair. I put the awning out (gotta love that electric awning) and after it dries out underneath, I'll set up one of my chairs and have her put out the barber pole.

We decided to put off my haircut until another day, and decided to go to one of the weekend flea markets in the area. We went to one that is on Hwy. 83 bt were very disappointed with the items for sale. It seems like every booth has boots and shoes galore for sale, with lots of exotic skin boots that appear to be some kind of artificial skin. I didn't "habla espanol" enough to ask any questions, so we just walked around for about an hour and left. The parking lot was a mudhole because of the rain earlier, but the only thing it cost us was .25 per person to get in.

We did find the Bentsen Palms RV park and liked it better than the Casa Del Sol, but we don't know about the amenities at BP, so we don't know whether we'd like to stay there. All-in-all, the RGV is nice and very inexpensive for us fixed income retirees, but I'm not convinced it is for us. I may change my mind, but right now I'm not sure that we'll come back next year.

We came back to the trailer and Stella washed some clothes while I stayed in the trailer. She came back and fixed us some sandwiches for supper. It got cooler this evening with the cold front that came through so it should be good sleeping tonight.

So long for now.

Friday, February 20, 2009

2-20-09, update on Donna Texas

Our first few days in the Rio Grand Valley have been pretty uneventful. We have eaten very well and cheaply at a place that is right next door to this park, Martha’s Taqueira Del Sol. It is a small family-run restaurant that has great hamburgers and home style Mexican food.

We went to a luncheon that was sponsored by Heartland for rig owners. Wow, what a turnout! We had an official count of 62 people at the Furrs Fine Food buffet in McAllen. There were a lot of people from wisconsin and a surprising number from Canada. It was very nice of Heartland to host this event in these trying financial times. We saw a lot of old friends and met some new owners, one of which signed up with me to come to the rally in April. He is a retired Detroit Mi. Police Officer, so we have that in common.

We have received several calls from folks back in Houston and some from our friends at Rayford Crossing. Jim called to tell me that I have been elected to the committee that plans the activities in the park. There are five people on this committee and I am looking forward to serving on it.

My wrist watch quit working about our second day here, but we took it to a jeweler to have the battery replaced, thinking that would do it. It worked for a couple of hours and stopped again. We went back to the jeweler and found out that there is something more seriously wrong with it and it should be sent back the factory to be repaired. I will wait until we get back to Houston to send it off. I went to Wal Mart and bought a cheap watch so I have something on my wrist now that keeps time and tells me the day and date.

We went to a concert last night in the rally hall. The entertainer, Sara Getto is a marvel. She was born with a cleft palate and cleft lip, is blind and numerous other medical problems, but man, can she sing! She finished public schools with straight A’s and just graduated from college with a degree in music education. Her parents gave her help and support in her show, with her dad playing and introducing her and her mother sold her CD’s. We also learned that she wasn’t able to find her college books in Braille and that her mother read her the books so she could study.

Today (Friday) we are going to a buffet lunch and a jam session in the rally hall. The “jammers” sign up to play and sing. It should be fun. Tom and Judy are active in this, Tom with setting up and working the sound equipment and Judy with serving.

Ted and Donna arrive tomorrow. They plan to leave this morning about 10 and stay overnight in Victoria, arriving here about noon tomorrow.

So long for now….

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

2-16-09, Trip to Donna Tx.

We got up this morning to get ready to go to visit Donna Tx. in the Texas valley. Our friends Tom and Judy are staying there and we are going to visit them. They have been staying there since around the end of October last year after they left Houston and the October rally we had there. There are many other Heartland owners that went to the valley after the rally and we should see them at the luncheon that Jim Beletti has set up for us in McAllen.

I went down to the Lone Star room to meet with my coffee drinking buddies for the last time for a month or so. When I got through, at about 8 o’clock, I returned to the trailer and began taking down the outside items to pack up. I went to get fuel in the truck after getting many of my outside items done. While out, I called Nazir, the owner of the Chevron station, who was supposed to have called us to let us know about his decision on payment of the claim. I left him a message to call me back.

Everything went well with packing up to leave but it took a bit longer than we expected. We left the park a little before 10, but when I stopped in the office to tell them goodbye, Melissa reminded me that I had forgotten to get a final reading on the electric meter. I came back with the numbers and we had a conversation about the upcoming Heartland rally. We finally got away about 10:15.

We had agreed to stop at the hundred mile mark to keep from getting the tank low, so if there was any more of the “gunk” left in the tank, we would not get it into the filter and the motor. We didn’t have any trouble on the trip and made two fuel stops. We got a little over 10 MPG on the trip, and got into Donna about 5 o’clock. Tom met us at the entrance to the park and guided us into out site. We finally got the trailer placed just where we wanted it and hooked up the utilities. The front porch may not be able to be used because of the small concrete patio. I’ll work on it more tomorrow.

Tom and Judy came by and picked us up and took us to a little restaurant right next to the park for supper. We had a nice meal of hamburgers and finished up the meal with some fried ice cream. We all left the restaurant very full, and came home for a good night’s sleep.

Tomorrow is the Heartland luncheon in McAllen. I will post more on it soon. Until then, so long.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

2-11-09, Another update on truck

Here is the latest in the saga of bad fuel from a local gas station. Milstead finished up the repairs yesterday around 10AM and we went and picked the truck up. We paid them $1,024 for the repairs done, and this didn't include the wrecker fee, the price of the fuel that they had to discard or the cost of another fuel filter change that they recommended in 5000 miles. We went directly to the station and presented them with the bill which totaled $1,14 which the clerk got approved by his boss to pay. He wrote us a company check out for the total bill without any questions.

We decided not to try to go on the road with the trailer until we test drive the truck some more. Stella needed to go down to Eric's office and to the clinic to drop off some papers and to pick some more up, so we loaded up and left. We got to I-45 @ Bay Area Blvd. when the truck lost power and we pulled over to call a wrecker. The Milstead wrecker came down from the Woodlands and got us and brought us back to the park and took the truck to their shop. By the time they got us dropped off, it was after 5 and they close at 6, so they didn't get anything done today.

Stella fixed some sort of a pasta casserole that she had in the cabinet and we just stayed at home in the trailer. The wind came up and blew hard all evening and later, after bedtime a huge storm blew through with more high winds and rain. I'm glad I got the trailer washed and waxed!

I woke this morning (Wednesday) and went to coffee with the guys at the park. We talked a lot about my fuel problem and I showed them the gunk that had been removed from the tank. I learned that we have to move from site #54 because there is a large rally coming in today and tomorrow, and Melissa said that there were no open sites. Ricky had moved from his permanent site #105 into an overnighter in site 59 and I went to help him get his trailer backed into storage. Wow, what a job to back that long trailer into a narrow site! It took us almost an hour but we got 'er done.

When I got back to the park, Melissa said that she had found me an open site, in fact, she had two to choose from. I had the choice of #95 which is a premium site or #59, where Ricky had moved out of. I took #59, so Ricky and I moved us into our new site. We decided not to attend the Sweetheart rally in Kerrville because of all the problems with the truck. We just couldn't justify getting on the highway with the truck acting like it had been, so I called Jim McGee and the park to let them know we wouldn't be coming. I did get to talk to Bobcat, who also tried to get me to come on up to Buckhorn, but he understood why we couldn't. I had a little chat with Jim B and explained why we couldn't come to him too and he said he didn't blame us.

After Ricky and I got the trailer moved, I noticed that one of the tires on the trailer was very low, so Stella called the Good Sam Road service that we pay for. They called Milstead wrecker and a nice guy named Phillip came out and took the tire off and dropped it off at their shop for repair. I'll have to put the tire back on and take the spare tire off when we pick it up.

I later talked to Gabe at Milstead and learned that the bill for today is $555.00 plus the cost of the wrecker service. I am not happy about this because I feel like they should be responsible for some of the costs because they didn't get all the gunk out of the tank and fuel lines, but my argument fell on deaf ears. I know that there are going to be additional costs for fuel filters change-out and such, and can only hope that the station continues to pay for the repairs.

Until next time.....

Monday, February 9, 2009

2-9-09, Update on truck

We didn't get the truck back today as we had hoped. Milstead Automotive called this morning and said that they had determined that it had stopped running because of bad fuel. They said they can flush out all the lines and would test drive the truck after the work is done. I was told that either the tech who did the work or Gabe, the service writer, would drive the truck to lunch as a further test drive, but I never heard from him until I called him ab out 4:45. He told me that he wanted to keep the truck overnight so that they can check it in the morning. Thats okay with me, since we don't want to break down on the highway.

We had planned to drive to Clear Lake so Stella can take some papers back to Eric's office and pick up some other work that needs to be done, but thats not going to work out now. If we get the truck back sometime in the morning, we will go ahead with the plan to leave tomorrow and go to Stephen F. Austin for the night and on to Kerrville on Wednesday.

Dee made it back from San Francisco yesterday and they spent all day today moving their clothes and other belongings from the trailer to their new house and plan to move into it for good tomorrow.

We went to a full-timers/snowbird meeting at the rally hall today. Rayford gave a committee $400 to plan and fund activities this year. They did a good job with monthly activities such as baked potato nights, bingo and other fun things to do. It is now time to add some new committee members and that was discussed. It is pretty progressive for a business to allow its customers and guest have activities that they plan and execute. I guess it is a good sign that the committee now has $1,100 in their account, so they have made a lot of money for the park. I would like to be on the committee, but since we will be traveling I don't know how active I could be. We'll see how it works out.

'til next time....

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Week of 2-1 thru 2-8-09

This week began with a typical Sunday for us. We just stayed in the trailer and Stella made us pigs in a blanket for breakfast. Rick and Brenda came over in the afternoon and we went shopping for a new gas grill for them. We finally found one at Sears and then we went to the Sweet Tomato for supper. This is the last time that we will see them until we meet in June. We leave next week for Kerrville and then to the RGV and they are leaving on the 16th for Memphis where Rick will work for his brother.

We went to Dickinson on Tuesday for me to see Dr. Merritt. My A1c is higher than it needs to be and she started me on some new medications, Glimeripride and Janumet. We'll have to see how this works out. Stella had a nice visit with her also before we left. We went to lunch with Kim in the cafeteria and after dropping off my old Sergeant badge in Manvel, we returned to the park. We did get more cheap diesel in Manvel ($1.95)

Our good friends Tommy and Susan had come to the park, so we had someone to hang with. Ricky was busy with his new house, getting deliveries and having things repaired. He found about half of the floor tile was bad and had to be torn out and replaced.

I began my Thursday by painting all the little road dings and scratches on the truck. I got my sliding cargo tray and the stabilizers in on Friday last week but had to wait for the trim kit to be shipped from out of state. It arrived on Wednesday. Tommy and I started putting it together on Thursday and got it set up on the table outside. Ricky came over on Friday morning and we got it all straightened out and installed in the cargo bay. Ricky and I (mostly Ricky) then began installing the stabilizers. They should make the trailer very steady with no shake when we walk around. We got one installed, but found that the installation instructions SUCK!! Ricky had to leave to have his blinds installed at his house, but when he returned, we got the rest done. It was a lot of work but its done now and working well. Thanks Ricky....

We had a small gathering of Boomers scheduled for this weekend's celebration of Mardi Gras. Barbara Spade, Jim Sims, Billy and Carla Clifton and Eddie and Kelly Rogers all came to the park to be with us this weekend. That night, all of them went to a mexican restaurant to eat while Ricky, Susan and Stella and I went to Tai Pei for oriental food.

We were supposed to have gone down and gotten the boys on Friday night, but because of the work that we were doing, we didn't get to go. Stella and I got up pretty early on Saturday morning to go down to Texas City, but when we stopped at the Chevron station on Rayford to get fuel, the truck started blowing white smoke and running rough and it finally died and would not restart. I had to call Milstead Wrecker to come pick us up and bring us back to the park. Tyler and Cameron ended up staying with Cathy for the weekend since we didn't have a truck. I believe that we got some bad fuel that caused the problem, but the shop didn't get a chance to find out what the problem was before they closed and will check on it on Monday. The clerk gave me a telephone number for Chevron to call to check on their liability on the damages to my truck.

We returned to the park and had a good time with the Mardi Gras celebration. I went over and sampled some of the mixed drinks that had been made for the drink contest. My vote might have been for the margaritas or more likely Danna's Pina Coladas made with ice cream. There was a potluck dinner Saturday night but Tommy and Susan fixed some hamburgers and hot dogs, so we ate with them. Michael Maker's band played and it was another great show. After listening for a couple of hours, we built a fire in front of Tommy's motorhome. We had a very nice time and burned up all of my firewood, which I wanted to do because I didn't want to carry it to Kerrville

This was my last gathering as the Boomer leader for the Houston area. Although it was one of the smallest turnouts for a gathering, we still had a good time and I think everyone else had a good time. There were some complaints about the pricing for the park this weekend, but it is a special event weekend with a band.

So long for now,