Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Tuesday March 30, 2010-Stephen F. Austin SP

Stella fixed us another good breakfast this morning and as soon as I could, I went outside to enjoy the weather. It is so peaceful here in this state park. There are few other trailers here and almost no traffic. It is nice to sit outside and watch the birds and squirrels at the feeder. The other park guests that occasionally walk by are very friendly and we will miss the shady, wooded sites.

I bought the book "The Blind Side" yesterday and started reading it while sitting outside. It is one of the best books that I have ever read! It is so heartwarming to read the true story of Michael Oher and his adopted family. I have heard from others that have seen the movie that it's a great story and now I believe it. I read over 200 pages of the book today and will finish it tomorrow. I can highly recommend this book and I'm sure that the movie is every bit as good.

We did our chores around the park today for the last time this year. Tomorrow is our day off and we are leaving on Thursday for Rayford Crossing, so we are done with working for awhile. Our next work camping gig will be at Timber Ridge Village in Magnolia next month.

Stella fixed us her special smothered steak for supper. It is rapidly becoming my favorite meal. I think she found it on one of the Food Network shows on television. Ask her about it the next time you see her, maybe she'll fix it for you.

This will be a short entry today, but you can just thank me, no applause is necessary.

So long.

Monday March 29, 2010-Stephen F. Austin SP

Today is another of those perfect weather days here, cool at night and warm and dry during the day. We have really tried to take advantage of this weather and have spent every moment outside. I wish we had more spring time in Texas but this will last a couple of weeks and then summer will arrive.

We did our chores around the park, and since we needed propane, we decided to try out a new restaurant that we had heard about, Ernesto's Mexican Food while we were out. Ernesto's was supposed to have been so great and very cheap according to some friends from here in the park. We were told that both of them had plenty of food for about $6.00 but that is not what we found. It is your typical small family-run mexican restaurant where no one speaks much English, and even the television station is all mexican, so if you don't speak the language, you better have someone to talk to or bring a book to read, cause there ain't nothing else to do there. The food wasn't bad but it was nothing great and not all that cheap either.

We also did some grocery shopping at Wal Mart and came on back home. We invited A.D. and Dee over to have a campfire tonight, so I lit the fire and sat up the chairs around the fire. They came over and stayed until about 8:30 when the fire started going down and it began to get cold. They had to get up and go to the hospital early in the morning, so the party broke up early. We had a very nice visit with them and have become good friends since we've been here. We'll miss them when we leave.

So long.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Friday, Saturday & Sunday, March 26-27 & 28, 2010-Stephen F. Austin SP

Not too much special to report here for the last three days. The weather has been spectacular, with cool nights and moderate temps during the day. It dips down into the upper 40's at night and into the low 70's during the days, and without a cloud in the sky, no chance of rain.

The park was absolutely full of scouts this weekend. Almost all of the tent area was taken up with several cub/boy scout groups, and there were even more in the shelter area. There were even two good sized groups in RV sites, so needless to say, the park was full. The scouts can get loud and, being kids, they like to stay up late. Most of the time, they are very well behaved, but I have heard stories of some of the things they have done here. It helps if the scoutmasters take them for hikes or play games to tire them out.

I had an interesting conversation with one of the rangers this weekend. We had a very large group in on Saturday in one of the RV sites. There were at least six cars and what seemed like 50 people in the site. I noticed them and noticed a "D" sticker on the cars, which denotes a day pass. I asked the ranger why they were not asked to go to a day-use site and he said that the park will allow this as long as an RV site is not needed for an RV. In other words, I can come in and pay a day-use fee and get to use the most expensive site in the park for nothing? When I asked him about it, he said that this is TX Parks & Wildlife policy. Hmmm. I have to think on that a little more...

We just took care of our bathrooms and sold a lot of firewood and ice. We are running dangerously low on both, and as of Sunday we are down to 5 bundles of firewood and 7 bags of ice. I know there is more firewood in the park and have been told that ice will be delivered on Monday. I hope so, because that won't last at the rates the guests here go through it. This was our last weekend here and we don't know who will be taking our spot. There aren't any host scheduled to arrive for awhile.

Two of our friends that stayed here as project volunteers left on Saturday. Jerry and Diane are from Kansas and came in back in January. Jerry is very skilled at construction projects and worked on the fences here in the park, erecting a pole fence in the day use area. He built benches our of felled trees along the paths on a couple of trails. I know he stayed very busy.

On their way out, Jerry discovered a problem with his tail lights on the trailer. He stopped here to see if I had a electricity test light, but I didn't so he stopped at A.D.'s place and used his. They had to wire in a loop to his left tail light because the factory plug-in was shorted out. All of this work apparently made one of the fuses blow, so just when they thought they had everything fixed, they found the blown fuse. It was replaced and everything is fixed now. He just has to get his new Chevrolet truck to a shop to fix the shorted-out wire.

Stella's uncle and aunt, Sonny and Irene and their daughter Carol came by on Sunday afternoon. Carol has a mail forwarding service, so we got signed up with her to take care of our mail. It was a very pleasant afternoon. I listened to Sonny talk about his life after the second World War and some of the things he did in his life.

Later in the afternoon, I was helping A.D. and Dee look for a lost cell phone in one of the empty sites when a car drove up and asked a question. It was our friends Tom and Marti Mangum, who were driving by the park and decided to drop in. We are so glad to see them and we had a nice chat outside. The wind had picked up and it was chilly, so they didn't stay long. We will see them soon at the Heartland rally in Spring. It was a nice way to end our last weekend here in this beautiful park.

So long.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Wednesday and Thursday, March 24 & 25, 2010-Stephen F. Austin SP

Today is our day off, but it is also the day that our friends Gene and Linda and Len and Peggy are leaving. Gene and Linda are on a four-state park trip and will go to the Matagorda Bay State Park near Bay City. Len and Peggy are going back home to Chappel Hill. We've had a great time with them and will miss them when they're gone. I'm sure we'll catch up to them again somewhere on the road or back here next year.

We all decided that we wanted a good breakfast that none of us had to work hard to make, so knowing how good Tony's breakfast is, we went into Sealy for breakfast. As usual, Tony didn't let us down, and all had a very tasty meal. We all enjoyed our last time together. We returned to the park and they made their final preparations to leave. Gene and Linda had loaded up a lot of their gear, so they didn't have too much to do when we got back. It must be easier to load up a motorhome because Len and Peggy were done about the same time as Gene and Linda. After hugs and handshakes, they were on their way.

Stella and I had decided to go into Sealy and do our laundry, so we got everything ready and went to the laundromat. As usual, I sat in the truck and read a book, enjoying the silence. It had started to lightly rain, so it would not have been a very good day to do much in the park. After finishing the laundry, we bought our groceries and came back home.

I should mention that I have heard from our buyer for the house and we should expect to close week after next. That is such good news for us. We are both so relieved to have finally sold the house. It has been our home for 25 years, but it's time to move on with our life in our lifestyle.

Wednesday we got up and went to Dickinson to make one last look-around at the house. We knew that there were some photos and other things we wanted to get out, but we ended up spending all day down there getting things picked up and moved. I finally told Stella that although I'm sure there are some things we could use if we hunted long enough for them, but we both were tired and hungry and wanted to get back home. Did I mention that we are excited over selling the house?

We stopped off at the karate school to see Tyler and Cameron on the way out of town. Cam has had some trouble in school and I wanted to talk to him about it.We had a little chat and I hope to hear from him soon, but I'm not holding my breath.

We stopped off and got something to eat on the way back home because we were right in the middle of the rush hour traffic. It has been years since either of us has eaten at a Wendy's but it hasn't changed. They have a good burger and it was right on the way home in Texas City. We soon got out into the traffic and made our way back to San Felipe. We stopped off at the Buccee's store in Alvin and filled the little tank on the truck. We took 20.6 gallons to go 363.7 miles for a 17.6 MPG average.

It is still cool at night and into the upper 60's to lower 70's in the daytime but at least it's not raining.

So long.
Did I mention that we are elated to have sold the house?

Friday, March 26, 2010

Tuesday March 23, 2010-Stephen F. Austin SP

Tuesday, we all woke and did our own thing for breakfast. We had decided yesterday to go to Orlando's Pizza in Brookshire this afternoon, so we didn't want to eat a big breakfast. We ended up going there about one o'clock, so we missed the lunch rush and still had a good selection of pizzas to choose from.

Len and Peggy rode with us, and wanted to go to Tony's to get one of their blueberry pies before they leave tomorrow, so we took a ride over to Sealy and picked one up after lunch. Len also bought one of their coconut pies after hearing all of us rave about how good they are. We brought them back with us and just hung out all afternoon. We all met again around five, and after I built another fire, we all had a piece of the coconut pie. It was WONDERFUL! You owe it to yourself to come to Tony's restaurant in Sealy and have some of their coconut pie. Actually any pie that you choose will be great but the coconut is outstanding!

The weather certainly cooperated for much of the week because it was cool outside but not too cold, so we had another very nice night sitting outside by the fire and visiting.

So long.

Monday March 22, 2010-Stephen F. Austin SP

We got up this morning and had breakfast with our friends Gene and Linda and Len and Peggy. Stella fixed a breakfast casserole for everyone, and I built a fire in the pit and we sat around the fire all day long.

Stella and I did our chores periodically all day, and kept our bathrooms sparkling. Most of the park guests that were here for spring break were now gone, so it was quiet and peaceful again. The weather was spectacular, a great change from the cold winds of yesterday. Gene and Linda rode their bikes every day around the park. I took walks around the large loop every day, so everyone tried to stay healthy in spite of the amount of food that we had.

Peggy fixed us a spaghetti dinner this afternoon, complete with a salad with garlic bread and all the fixin's. It was a great meal with our friends. We had leftover pie and brownies from yesterday for dessert. Since Gene and I had picked up all the firewood that had been left behind, we had plenty to have a fire all day that we just hung out around the pit all day and into the evening.

We are so blessed to have so many friends.

So long.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Sunday March 21, 2010-Stephen F. Austin SP

We woke to cold weather again....will winter never leave? At least we didn't have any snow here like Dallas got! It was very cold in the trailer because of course, the propane ran out during the night and Stella didn't wake me to go switch tanks. Poor little Cassie was snuggled up on me just a tight as she could be, and still shivering. I went outside and changed the tanks over, and it warmed up nicely.

We had a Colorado reunion scheduled for today. Tommy and Susan were coming down and bringing Dick and his wife Eugenia and of course Gene and Linda and Len and Peggy who were already here. Ted and Donna also came, so it was a nice group. We haven't seen them in quite awhile, so it was a nice get together. The only problem was the weather, windy and cold.

We had a great deal of munchies, chips and dips, summer sausage, several kinds of cheeses, hot crackers (my favorite), and lots of crackers. Linda made sloppy Joe sandwiches, calico beans, cole slaw, potato salad, so there was PLENTY to eat. Susan fixed some brownies and Peggy fixed a banana pudding. Donna had been wanting a piece of coconut pie, so Stella fixed one, but was told that since there was so much other stuff to eat, to keep it at home. She later fixed Ted and Donna some of the pie to take home. I know she appreciated it, and we were glad to be able to give her some of the pie that she wanted.

Gene and I went to the group area and picked up a lot of firewood that they had left there. My neighbor had given me his firewood that he wasn't going to use, so we had plenty of wood to burn. Gene made a nice fire in his firepit and we all sat around the fire, keeping warm and chatting. I had brought two of our brand new chairs, but when I got out of mine, the wind blew it into the fire, burning a large hole in the seat back. It's not ruined, but it doesn't look too good. Maybe we can find a cover to put over the burned material.

Tommy and his group left promptly at 2 just like he said he was going to do. I think Gene was wanting to get home to watch NASCAR on television. Ted and Donna stayed and we had a very nice visit. It was a very nice day and we were sorry to see them leave, but they had a long drive back to the Woodlands. The rest of us continued to sit outside, enjoying the day.

Those of us that were hungry had some of the leftovers, but honestly, we were all pretty full. We sat out until well after dark and turned in. It was a great day with good friends.

So long.

Saturday March 20, 2010-Stephen F. Austin SP

Today was our first day without the boys in a week. We miss them already, but then we also didn't have to deal with them being in bed after we wanted to get up and start doing things. It was raining and turned colder again this morning, so that kept the firewood sales down but I did sell a few bags of ice. People need to keep things cool!

Our friends Gene and Linda drove over from Austin. We met them at Priest Gulch this past year, and they are going on a state park trip to about four different park, so they began their trip here. It was very good to see them again, having kept in touch since leaving Colorado by email.

We went into the Post Office in San Felipe and mailed off the contract on the house. I hope it closes soon. We loved our house, but are ready to move on with our new life and put home ownership behind us. Being homeless never felt so good!

Later in the afternoon, we invited Gene and Linda to go to Tony's restaurant with us for supper. We all had a great meal and finished up with some of their homemade blueberry pie. As usual, it was all delicious. It had stopped raining, but it was very cold and windy, so after a quick stop at Wal Mart, we came back home and went in for the night.

None of us were really well prepared for the cold weather. Gene and Linda do not full time, and didn't have any heavy coats in their trailer. We had taken our small electric heater that we had used in the living room, all of our heavy winter coats and most of our sweaters and sweat shirts to storage, believing that winter was finally over. NOT!!

Some of our other Colorado friends, Len and Peggy were also coming this weekend. There was some sort of foul-up over their reservations. Peggy had told me that they were coming in on Sunday, but when I tried to reserve some spaces for them, I was told at the office that they were expected on Saturday, so Linda called them and told them. They arrived later in the evening, around 9:30. For some reason, I wasn't aware of it when they got here. Hmmmm.

We're ready for another great weekend with our friends.

So long.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Friday March 19, 2010-Stephen F. Austin SP

Today the boys and I got up and they gathered up all of their stuff to go home. Yep, it was the day we all dreaded, having to bring them home so they can go back to school next week. We left here about 9:30 and went to Sealy to get them something to eat. Of course, they wanted donuts, so being a retired cop, I knew exactly where the donut store was. We got them some kolaches and donuts and left for Texas City. We made good time down the freeway but ran into heavy traffic on I-45. There were a lot of cars going south toward Galveston. This was the last weekend of spring break.

We got to their house and unloaded their huge bags of clothes, two ripsticks and Cam's bicycle. I took them to the karate school but everyone had already left for the mall where they were going to a movie today. I took them to the mall and dropped them off with Ms. Frances.

I went to Manvel to pick up the new platform from Ken. On the way, I stopped at Buccee's where I got fuel. I took a total of 121.7 gallons to go 1771.4 miles for a 14.5 MPG average.

I went to Ken's and together we tweaked the platform enough to get it installed. It fits over the horizontal portion of the fuel tank to hold the disassembled porch and anything else I want to stack on it. I am very proud of the way it turned out, since it will open up a lot of storage for me in the slide-out tray in the trailer and will protect the fuel tank from anything bouncing around and piercing it. Ken is a wonderful fabricator and welder and the job looks very good.

After leaving Ken's place, I met my old friend Emile at Denny's on Hwy. 6 for coffee. Emile and I worked together at MoCity for five years and became good friends. It was good to see him again and we had a nice visit. I came on back home and got here just in time to sell some more firewood and ice. Time to go back to work...

So long.

Thursday, March 18, 2010-Stephen F. Austin SP

Today we just hung around here at the park on our second day off this week. The boys were glad to stay here. They have a trail walk scheduled with Ben the Environmental Ranger at 11AM.

Both mornings of our days off, people have come over to buy either firewood or ice and I sold it to them. I figure that we are already here and the other park host is some distance away, so it would be crazy to send someone away when I can sell them what they want in just a few minutes. It doesn't take that long and it keeps the customers happy. Isn't that why we're here?

While the boys were gone, I decided to put up my Internet antenna that I had bought from the 3G store. I had to go into Sealy to a hardware store to buy some longer bolts to hold the antenna on the ladder, but it went up without too many problems. The only problem is that the antenna cord is too short, so I need to order one.

Tyler and Cameron came back from their hike with Ben and the others in their group. They were excited because Ben had let them lead the group because they were "experienced" in hiking the trails here.

They had another talk this afternoon that Ben put on in the amphitheater on wildlife here in the park. Cameron said he was bored by the talk but Tyler said he liked it. Their MeMaw fixed us some supper that we ate outside at the table. They insisted on another fire tonight, so we lit some wood that we still had. We didn't really have enough, so Cam went down and bought some more wood from A.D. who was manning the sales of firewood tonight. MeMaw brought out the makings for S'mores and both boys enjoyed them, Tyler more than Cameron. We stayed out for an hour or so and I turned in. Cam has been giving me back rubs every night and I wanted the best for their last night here. He certainly delivered, and I slept better tonight than any other night. I have been sleeping later every night since he's been here, so I guess I'm more relaxed.

It's been a great week with the boys and we have had some memorable times together. We have talked and laughed and really had a good time. I will miss them when they have to go back home.

So long.

Wednesday March 17, 2010-Stephen F. Austin SP

Today is our day off and we have a lot of places to go and things to do. We had first planned to bring the boys home today so they could have some time there during spring break, but they were having such a good time up here, they wanted to stay. They called their mom and she said they could stay for another couple of days, so that is one place we didn't have to go to.

I had called Kristine Schaffner, so that we could meet for lunch. Kristine was the Fire Marshal in Manvel while I was there and we have stayed in touch via Facebook. She brought Mike Jaimes, the ex Animal Control/Code Enforcement officer in Manvel and David Davila, one of the former Police Officers in Manvel to have lunch with us. Remember me telling you about running into Chief Garcia the other day? Well the tale just goes on and on. I'll tell you about it one day, I promise.

We had a nice lunch at Kelly's restaurant in Alvin. When we got through, we had to hurry up because a man named Eddie Gant was coming by to look at the house. We had met him through a friend and since he is an investor in properties like ours, he was very interested. He was right on time, and after about an hour or so of inspection, he took all of his information and said he will call me back.

We were supposed to go pick up my platform that Ken is making for me to carry the porch and steps when we are traveling. He called this morning to tell me that the paint was not drying like he thought it would and could we come another time. We told him that we could, so there is another stop off our list.

We had some papers and coats and sweaters that we didn't need in the trailer for awhile, so we went to the storage unit in Texas City. We dropped the items off and left and started back to San Felipe. We had stopped to transfer some fuel when we got a call from Eddie. You didn't think I was just going to leave you hanging about selling the house did you? Well, he made us an offer and after a short talk with Stella, I called him back and we accepted his offer. It is not what the house is worth, and a little less than what we wanted, but it will be a cash deal, so we decided to let it go. Actually, at this point, we would have taken just about any reasonable offer, so are delighted to have this offer. Eddie said he will email me the contract and other paperwork and when we get it filled out, to call him and we would make arrangements to get the papers to him. YIPPEE!!!

We came on back home, elated to have a deal working on the house.

So long.

Tuesday March 16, 2010-Stephen F. Austin SP

We woke to another beautiful day here in San Felipe. The park is still full, and as one rig leaves, another comes in to take it's place. The tent and shelter areas did the same. We stayed very busy all day selling ice and firewood. When I say we were busy, I should correct this and say that Cameron was very busy. That boy is a workaholic when you give him a job and tell him what to do.

Our neighbors next door came over to drink coffee with us this morning. They have a daughter in college and are thinking of moving up to a larger trailer from their popup, and were asking a lot of questions about full timing. I gave them one of my cards and a Heartland contact card and hopefully we'll keep in touch. They were also very interested in our "colored" fire the night before. I told them how I did it and gave them a small piece of copper tubing that I had used. I hope they enjoy it as much as we did.

With the nice weather, I cleaned up the truck and trailer. The truck was filthy and because of the rain and mud we have been driving through, I hadn't bothered cleaning it, but today was so nice I decided to go ahead and get it done.

In the afternoon, we went to Brookshire to Orlando's Pizza. The boys were excited about having a pizza buffet and as a reward to their work, we took them out. We had told A.D. and Dee where we would be going, so they met us there. They are off today but had gone to MD Anderson hospital for Dee's treatment. We had a nice meal and came back home. There were people waiting for us to get back so they could get ice and firewood. I had reported to the office the fact that we were running low on both firewood and ice, and that the money drop boxes were getting full. I was told that firewood would be ordered but nothing was said about the ice. Anne told me that Alan, the park manager, and one of the members of the Friends of Stephen F Austin state park committee would have to remove the money. I offered to just keep it if they get too full, but somehow, I don't think that's gonna happen.

So long.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Monday March 15, 2010-Stephen F. Austin SP

We woke this morning to another great weather day here at the park. It is warming up during the day, but is still chilly at night, so a blanket feels good in bed. Stella fixed us some breakfast and the people started coming over for firewood and ice pretty early. The boys, especially Cameron, have been a BIG help to us with the sales. Cam has pretty-much taken it over, and does not even need help taking care of people. Since we don't have to make change, he knows how much a bundle of wood costs, so he's doing it all for me. Thanks buddy!!

We made our early morning (9:00) bathroom checks this morning. Tyler rode over to the day-use area with me on the golf cart to check it. There is so little use of that area, it seldom needs attention other than a good sweep-out. We rode through the park on our way back home.

Today, we need to go pick up our porch and the platform that Ken is building for me at his shop in Manvel. Since it's a duty day here at the park, I let the boys decide who would stay here and who would go with me. Tyler decided that he would stay here with MeMaw and help her and Cameron would ride to Manvel with me. I'm sure that Tyler figured he'd get to spend a lot of his time on the computer, but I think he was mistaken. Stella said they were very busy the whole time we were gone. Cam caught a nice nap on the way down, but we made good time getting to Manvel.

I turned off into the Rodeo Palms subdivision when we got into Manvel. It hasn't changed a bit since I left there, except that every other house is for sale. The people that bought in this subdivision all seemed to use the adjustable rate mortgages to buy and now that they've been there for a few years, the mortgage interest is rising, and the houses go on the market. It's really sad, the way the housing market has gone. It went from anyone that could walk in the door of a finance company would qualify for an A.R.M. and although the house prices were a bit higher, they sold. Now, house prices are much lower, and it is almost impossible to get a loan. Ask me how I know? We have marked our house down by 1/3 and have had a deal to sell it twice, but the loans didn't go through for one reason or another.

We went on over to Ken's place and met him out in his shop. He had told me that everything was ready, so we started putting the new platform into the truck. Well, as it turned out, he had not allowed for the feet on the legs of the platform, so the measurement was off by one inch. We tried it without the feet, but it would have been so tight, we would have had to force it down on the sides of the fuel tank and I didn't want to put any pressure on the tank. I could just see the metal to metal rubbing a hole in the tank and 100 gallons of diesel leaking out. Nope, we decided that Ken will redo the platform and I will pick it up on Wednesday. We have to bring the boys home and will be showing our house to someone that day, so we won't have to make a special trip. The porch looks very nice and he made a few improvements to it for us. We loaded it into the truck and came on back to San Felipe.

Cameron is like his MeMaw in that he has to use the bathroom every thirty minutes or so. It had been about two hours since he had gone, so as soon as we got in the truck, he needed to stop. We stopped at the Valero station since I knew it was the cleanest in town. When we stopped, I noticed a familiar Ford Expedition turning in front of us, and sure enough, it was Ralph Garcia, Chief of Police in Manvel, stopping for coffee. Ralph and I had a nice chat while Cam took care of his business. Although Ralph didn't admit it to me, there have been many problems at the PD since I left. They have had a huge turnover in personnel and things are not going well. No, they didn't have these problems because I left, but I got out just in the nick of time. This is a tale for Wayne Dolcefino or another one of those investigative reporters. Trust me, it's a good one.

Cam and I came on back home and set the porch up. Wow, what a difference it makes! Cassie is happy to come outside now, even eager. She hates the fold out steps because they are too steep for her to feel comfortable going down them. Its good to be home again. We helped to sell some more wood and ice and called it a night.

We built a small fire in our firepit and had a nice time sitting around the fire. The two boys enjoyed it, especially when I added the copper to give the fire color. Both of them had seen it before, but it is still fascinating to watch. We stayed out for about two hours before going back inside. The weather was cool enough to enjoy the fire but not cold enough to make it uncomfortable.

So long

Monday, March 15, 2010

Sunday March 14, 2010-Stephen F. Austin SP

We woke this morning to warmer temperatures, and of course, two boys spread out all over the living room. I'm sure that they are more comfortable in the nice air bed that was included in the pull out bed in the sofa, but they didn't take as much room when they slept on pallets on the floor of the old trailer. I can tell they are sleeping better by the snores from both of them. They are PePaw's boys...

The park guests started at 8 o'clock this morning with requests for ice, a lot earlier than usual. I was up and dressed, so it really didn't matter. I stayed busy all day with orders for ice and firewood. I heard on the radio that Tom, the park host that is in the tent/shelter area ran out of firewood and had to go get more. I would also like to take this time to remind anyone coming here or to another state park to beware of snakes! They are coming out of winter hibernation and are very active right now. One of the rangers found one when he was loading firewood for Tom that was all coiled up and ready to strike if he had taken another step. They have a catch and release policy here, so the snake was released to the wild. I'm sorry but if I can tell its a poisonous snake, it's a dead snake. I'm deathly afraid of snakes anyway, so just knowing it was venomous makes me nervous.

Stella made us french toast for breakfast this morning. It was nice to sit outside at the table to eat with the boys. This weather is spectacular! Bright sunny days without a cloud in the sky and warm temperatures. It got to almost 80 degrees today, so shorts were in order.

I had talked to park ranger Larry last night and he had asked if we would be able to come help him clean the group area today. There was one group that was leaving on Sunday and another coming in later that day. I told him that we could help, so he called us to come over. We had just finished breakfast, so the boys and I went over. Cameron rode his bike and I walked. Stella drove our golf cart and Tyler rode with her. When we got there, the boys and I were assigned to sweep and mop the dining hall, which we got done soon. Many hands make light work. A couple of the other rangers had also showed up to help, but by then there were so many people working, there was really no room for them. We got through in about 30 minutes and Ben, the park's environmental ranger invited Tyler and Cameron to go on a nature walk with him this afternoon.

The boys enjoyed their walk with Ben and learned to pick out poison ivy and other nasty plants that are found here in this park. It was a good thing because later in the afternoon, Cam threw the Frisbee out into some high grass behind our site and knew there wasn't any poison ivy around where he had to go to get the it. They didn't see any snakes and I wish they had so they would know what to look for. I talked to a man and his two boys later that saw some moccasins while they were fishing.

I continued to sell ice and firewood all afternoon. We ate supper outside and sat around relaxing. The boys wanted a fire, so I lit a small fire in our firepit. We sat around it, enjoying the warmth and colors when A.D. and Dee came by to visit. He had come down to sell some firewood and stopped by for a bit. We had a nice chat with them and turned in about 8:30. Today was the first day of Daylight Savings Time and it seemed to make a lot of difference in the evening. It was light until almost 8, and I know the days will just continue to get longer.

So long.

Friday and Saturday, March 12 and 13, 2010-Stephen F. Austin SP

Both Friday and Saturday were just regular work (ugh, that nasty word!) days for us. We didn't do too much out of the ordinary but clean up the bathrooms and sold a ton of firewood and ice. This is the first weekend of spring break, so there were a lot of folks coming in on Friday. The RV section was pretty much filled up, but I would like to make a little observation here. They allowed two different groups to erect tents in an RV site. I guess this is nothing groundbreaking, but there are still a couple of sites that are not being used because they have had underground work done and the blacktop has been removed. Both sites has been out of service since January when we were here before, waiting on TxDOT to come in and re-pave. As far as I can tell, the sites are fine other than no paving. Is it that much cheaper to wait over two months for TxDOT? I don't know...

Saturday evening, Tyler and Cameron arrived. It was good to see them again, and it looks like they both have grown a foot. Jeremy stayed for a little while to chat with us and stretch his legs after the long drive up here. Kim didn't come because she has been having issues with her blood sugar levels. She will have low blood sugars because her insulin pump over medicates her and then will either turn it off or down so low that the sugar levels soar. She had a low this morning in the 40's and a high this afternoon in the 400's. Not good at all.

I'm glad we have this time to spend with the boys. I'm just sad that we won't get to spend any time with Ian this month. I talked to Jennifer and learned that Jay's schedule is all messed up right now and they probably won't be able to come down here to the park. They love to tent camp and had planned to make a weekend trip down, but it doesn't look good right now. We'll try to spend some time with him soon.

So long.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Thursday March 11, 2010-Stephen F. Austin SP

Today, being our last day off this week, we tried to take advantage and get all of our chores and errands run. I had made arrangements with Ken to get our porch picked up today, but he had not been able to get the powder coating done. You may remember me telling you about my friend Scott, was diagnosed with bladder cancer right after I found the problem with the porch's coated finish some months ago. Okay, I won't scold you if you don't remember it. Anyway, Scott had told me to bring it to him and he would make it good, but unfortunately, he is having problems and can't get to the work right now. I had made arrangements with Ken to pick it up this afternoon, after Ken painted it temporarily, but it is so cool and damp he is afraid it wouldn't be dried sufficiently, so we decided to go pick it up on Monday.

It began raining about 3AM but stopped about 7, so the day was very nice. It is warm in the sunshine and cool in the shade, and we decided to take several items down to storage to get them out of the way of the boys coming to visit. We loaded everything up and went to Texas City. Cassie asked if she could go with us, so we took her along. I don't know why she wanted to go because she laid in her bed and slept the whole way.

I had talked to Bill earlier today and knew that he and Ornell and his son Tommy and wife Jackie and their son Tanner were all going to the Via Bayou RV park for the weekend. Ricky and Dee and Jodi and Larry were also going and of course our good friends Harry and Judy were already there.

Harry and Judy have just returned from a nice trip down to Cape Canaveral to see the space shuttle lift off. You can see their trip here. They had a very nice time, and got in with the assistance of one of Harry's nephews who works for NASA. Harry is friends with everyone in Texas City, they are either a relative, or he worked with them or is in the Lodge with them. You can never have too many friends!

Since our chores were done, we stopped by the park and had a very nice visit with all the partiers at Via Bayou. It was especially good to see Harry and Judy because they are leaving April 1st for Idaho, where they are work camping for the summer. Maybe we'll be able to get together with them before they leave but who knows? If not then, this fall for nsure when we all return to Texas for the winter.

While we were there, Bill checked my big fuel tank for water. He has some sort of gel that he stuck on a long stick he has that will react with water in a fuel tank. Thank goodness there was no water in my tank. I have had this tank almost a year and haven't put any regular gas in it nor have I gotten any water in it. I just wanted Bill to check it for me to make sure.

We have been doing very well with our food intake for the last couple of weeks but we kind of blew it tonight. We were late getting away and hadn't eaten since breakfast, so we were both hungry. I wanted some Mewxican food and we slowed at Gringo's in Texas City but they were nbusy as usual, so we kept going. I knew of the Los Cucos restaurant at the Katy Mills mall, so thats where we went. The food was excellent, but we just simply ate too much and too late. We both felt bad all night long, but it wasn't the food, it was the amount and how late we ate it.

Today's entry is being done outside at the picnic table on the site. It's about 70 degrees and not a cloud in the sky. Gotta love this Texas springtime weather!
so long.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Monday-Wednesday, March 8-10, 2010-Stephen F. Austin SP

It was cool and raining on Monday morning. I went out the first thing in the morning and checked the RV bathroom, which was pretty clean. I came back home and was sitting in my recliner after breakfast when I heard a crash. it sounded like a tree or large limb falling, so I didn't pay too much attention to it. A few minutes later, I heard the other park host calling the park headquarters to report a tree had fallen and had hit a motorhome. I got up and went over to see what had happened and learned that a large limb had fallen and hit the front overhanging fiberglass on a Winnebago class B motorhome. It had broken through the fiberglass and broken off the right side mirror. The lady had been inside and right under where the limb had hit when it fell but her husband had been outside. She was very shook up when I was there. I gave them some directions to local repair shops and since the rangers had been called, A.D. and I left. I noticed that they left the park later in the morning and they haven't come back. I don't blame them...

That was all the excitement that happened the rest of the day. We just took care of our bathrooms and rode around talking to the people still here in the park. The weather has started to warm during the day, and the rain had stopped, so it was a pretty nice day.

Tuesday began with a foggy morning. It warmed up again and we took care of our bathrooms and just enjoyed the day. The only excitement today was that a lady had come into one of the RV sites and didn't have a trailer. One of the other guests came by and told me about her, so I went over and talked to her. She told me that she had a day pass that she had paid for and had the windshield tag for it. When I asked her if she was planning to stay all night, she said that she hadn't decided yet but if she did stay the night, she would just stop by the office and pay her fee. She was a single woman with a large dog, and I felt sorry for her. She had come down to Texas from Oregon and looked as if she had been sleeping in her truck. She had a small single burner stove and an ice chest and had fixed herself something to eat, but there was nothing I could do about her. The day pass allowed her to stay in the park until 10PM and when I called out on the radio to notify one of the rangers of the situation, no one answered me.

After leaving her, I found a San Felipe Police Officer driving through the park and reported the information to him. He and I had a nice visit and talked shop for a long time. He has been asked by the mayor and council to take over Code Enforcement duties also. I told him of my background and told him that if there was anything I could help him with, I would be glad to.

I got in trouble with Stella when I got back home. She had fixed some corned beef and cabbage for supper and I had stayed off for so long, it was cold. Sorry, but duty called.

The next morning, sure enough, she was still in the park. I went for a walk early and when I walked by the site where she was, she recognized me and said that she had gone down to the other park host when she decided to stay and had been told to see the office in the morning. She left about 7:30, which is before the office opens, so I'm sure she didn't pay.

I saw Larry, one of the rangers, driving around when I got back home. I told him about what had happened and he said that they normally don't do too much about these people that steal a site. We also had a chat about some of the kids that come into the park and make a mess in the bathrooms. He said that he doesn't do anything to find out who made the mess or even to talk to the scoutmaster, but just cleans it up. I asked him about this and if this didn't give these delinquent children a wrong message. He agreed that it could be handled better and would look into changing his methods.I'm not saying to get these kids in trouble, but they need to become responsible for their activities.

That was about all that happened the rest of Tuesday. The weather is great, so we sat outside a lot in the afternoon. It was a nice day to sit outside and read.

Wednesday was our first day off this week. I had called a local groomer and made an appointment for Miss Cassie to be groomed. Arla, the groomer and owner of Hartland Pets,lives out in the country between Frydek and Wallis, both very small towns, but using her directions, we found her with no problem. After dropping Cassie off, we went to Wallis looking for a hardware store. I had been working on our sign and had broken off one of the cup hooks on the bottom. The old-style hardware store was closed, so we ended up in Sealy where I found the parts I needed at the Ace Hardware. We came back home and I had just gotten to work on the sign when Arla called and said Cassie was ready. We went and picked her up and came back home to sit outside again. Cassie stayed out with us today, and we had a very pleasant day. I called Ken about our porch and he said it should be ready tomorrow, so we will go pick it up. I also spoke with Kristene and we are going to eat lunch with her on Wednesday next week. That's the day we will be bringing the boys home. It will be good to see them, but I'll bet they will be ready to go home by then. We might be ready to take them home too...

So long.

Friday thru Sunday,March 5-7, 2010-Stephen F. Austin SP

This has been a boring and uneventful past few days. We did nothing except our park chores and sold a LOT of firewood over the weekend. I sold over $150 in firewood on Friday and Saturday, and at $5.00 per bundle, that's a lot of wood. We didn't eat out over the weekend, and just stayed here in the park.

The weather is improving. It gets warmer every day but still gets pretty chilly at night. It won't be long until we'll be complaining about how hot it is. We're never satisfied!

I did meet some new Heartland friends, Mike and his wife Zanetta. They said they will sign up for the rally when they get home. Mike has a very nice 2000 Ford F-350 pickup that I really like. He put in a custom grill and rear bumper that I like. The truck sits down lower than the new trucks, which I like, even though its a 4X4. The truck has the old 7.3L diesel motor, but I don't think he is interested in trading.

Sunday our friend Barbara came by for a visit. She had been camping in Columbus this weekend and dropped by to chat for a little while. She told the gate attendant that she was coming in to visit us, and that we are park hosts, but the lady attendant is new and didn't realize that guests for the park hosts are allowed in without restrictions. After Barbara had been here for the thirty minutes she had been told about, I heard a call go out to the park ranger on duty to come find her and tell her that her time is up. Barbara was rather upset because she said she is well known to most of the park employees because she brings groups to this park a lot. She said her annual park pass had just expired and she intended to renew it on her next visit to the park. Carroll came by to talk to Barbara and to explain what had been done. It irritated me because we had been told that our visitors would not have to pay and would be allowed in to see us any time. I guess the new employee wasn't familiar with this policy.

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So long

Friday, March 5, 2010

Wednesday & Thursday, March 3 & 4, 2010-Stephen F. Austin state park

We woke Wednesday and went over and checked both bathrooms early in the morning. We came back home and ate some breakfast and Carroll came by to chat. He said our days off will now be Wednesday and Thursday. We didn't tell him that we had already done some work today, but thats all right. We had done most of the work yesterday, so the bathrooms were pretty clean.

I've been good since we got back here and have been walking every day. I haven't been walking as far as I did the first time we were here, but I have been walking at least twice a day now. I am determined to get my blood sugars in line! I have a bet with Kim, which I have won if I can get the A1C corrected.

I was walking around the back side of the trailer when I bumped into the water line to the trailer. Somehow the line broke, squirting water all over the place. I called it in on the radio and all of the maintenance rangers responded. It was determined that the line had gotten brittle after the cold weather in January, and had split at one of the threaded joints in the pipe. the line was repaired without too much trouble, although it was a muddy mess for awhile. At least the weather is warm and dry.

Since Thursday is now our day off, we went to the washateria to wash clothes and then to Wal Mart for grocery shopping. Such an uneventful day! I did speak to a Landmark owner that came into the park for a few days.

We finally talked to Tyler and Cameron and learned that they will be off for Spring Break on the 13th through the 21st. We decided to have Kim bring them up here on Saturday the 13th and we will take them home on Wednesday or Thursday. It will be good to see them. It seems like it has been forever since we've seen them.

So long.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Tuesday March 2, 2010-Stephen F. Austin state park

We woke this morning to cool temperatures, but at least it's not freezing, snowing or raining. I don't know when we've ever had a crazier winter. Hopefully spring will be here soon and warm weather.

Since I already had everything but a golf cart, we went over to the RV area restroom and cleaned it up. It needed supplies, so we went to the tent area and cleaned it and made a list of supplies needed there and went to the shop to get one of the golf carts and stock up on supplies. I talked to Carroll again and reminded him that we would be gone this afternoon to vote and he said okay. I drove the cart back home and stopped off at the Visitor's Center where Don was working. I had not seen him since we got back, but he was busy getting things finished up so they could leave tomorrow. There had been a lot of talk since we got back about communication, so I also told him that we would be gone this afternoon. That makes two park hosts and the acting head ranger that have been told, so I've done my part in communicating. I dropped the supplies off in the two restrooms and sold some firewood to one of the guests. He and I chatted for a long time, before I came on home so we could leave.

We drove to Dickinson and had trouble locating the polling place for our precinct. We went to the usual locations but didn't find it, so Stella began calling City Hall. She was frustrated by the telephone "tree" that she had to go through to get someone on the phone. She never did get anyone and we ended up going to City Hall to find out where we should go. The clerk at the permit desk seemed to be confused but suggested that we try the high school. Having already been there, we asked for another possible location. He finally suggested that we go to the First Baptist Church, which is where we needed to be. After driving all over the east side of Dickinson, we needed to be about three blocks from city hall. Government inefficiency at it's best!

We got done with voting, so we were ready to go to Manvel to drop off the porch/steps for repair and refinishing. While there, I spoke with my friend Ken about building a platform to go into the back of my truck to hold the porch to free up the space in the underbelly of the trailer. He said he will work on it, and we left. It had gotten so late, we couldn't make it back home in time to see NCIS, so we stopped and ate at a Whataburger in Pearland. After supper, we made good time getting back here. We got a lot accomplished today, although my governor candidate lost the race...

So long.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Monday March 1, 2010-Moving Day, Hill Country RV park-Stephen F. Austin state park

Today was the day that we said goodbye to the Hill Country RV Park and went back to the Stephen F. Austin state park in San Felipe. We drank our coffee but didn't eat breakfast before starting to put things away to travel. Thank goodness I had already taken the porch and steps down and put them away, so the main thing I had to do was the utilities. Before I got started, I remembered that I needed another storage box for the new sewer hose, so I made a quick trip to Wal Mart to buy one.

It rained all night long, so I was apprehensive when we woke this morning, but the rain had stopped. It was cool outside and of course, there was a lot of mud around the trailer, but it soon warmed up and was a nice day. We got away about 10:30 and had a very nice travel day. It was partly cloudy and warm all day long. We made a stop at the Love's Truck stop and got coffee and a bite to eat and continued on to SFA. We got here about 1 o'clock and spoke with Carroll, the interim Head Ranger here. He told us to find a site near the rest rooms and firewood trailer because our friend Don, who was parked nearest to them was leaving on Wednesday. He also told us that our friends Bobby and Debbie had just left the park, or actually that some family members had come to move their trailer. Bobby had been seriously injured when he was working on the group shelter. A tree had fallen on the building and Bobby was on a ladder, removing the tree when it collapsed and he fell, breaking his pelvis. Wow!! Carroll also said that Leon and his wife were also gone, and sadly Leon is now under hospice care. I knew that both of them had been being treated at MD Anderson for cancer and had been involved in a traffic accident just before we had gotten here in January. I had spoken with Leon a couple of times and noticed that he didn't look very well at that time, so it was a shock to learn of the hospice care for him now.

We learned that A.D. and his wife Dee were still here, and Jerry and his wife were still here also, as well as Don and Nita who were leaving. We went down and found a site and while there, A.D. and Dee came by to see us. It was good to see them again. Dee is also being treated at MD Anderson and we had thought they might be gone by the time we came back.

We got set up, but while getting started, it started to rain on us. Luckily I didn't have to set the porch up today because we are taking it back to RV EZ Steps for an inspection and to be re-powder coated. A.D and Dee came back by and we all decided to go eat pizza at Orlando's Pizza in Brookshire. I later drove down to the shop and spoke with Carroll again and got my keys, radio and spoke with him about a golf cart. I didn't get the cart now but will come down tomorrow to pick it up. I told Carroll that we would again clean the restrooms and would get them done tomorrow but we have to leave to go to Dickinson to vote and take care of the porch.

After we got set up, I came inside to get out of the rain and dry off and rested until time to go eat. We went down and picked them up and had a great meal and a very nice visit after. A.D. brought me up to date on everything that had been going on at the park since we left. We learned that things have not improved too much since we left. We are to have a meeting later in the week to get our assignments. We'll have to wait and see how that works out.

So long.