Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Tuesday February 28, 2012-Caddo Lake NWR

The weather is warming up here. It didn't get nearly as cold as it has been getting and the days are up in the high 60's. It's good shirtsleeve weather. I'll be glad to be back in shorts soon.

I told Todd I would come down to the fire hall and help him build the framework for the new signs today. Rain had been forecast and we decided it would be a good day to work in the shop. I had forgotten how hard it is to actually do physical work, getting down on hand and knees and throwing 4 X 4's around. I was exhausted by the end of the day. We took a nice break for lunch but I came home and relaxed in my recliner. Missing a meal won't hurt me!

We signed up to work on Saturday on a project for the Texas Parks and Wildlife. They had an artist come over and draw some pictures on the walls of one of the old storage magazines to illustrate invasive wildlife. We will be coloring the drawings using chalk. If these drawings turn out okay, they will use paint to replace the chalk, but that will be a very long process and we will be gone.

I am starting to worry about our summer trip this year. Much higher fuel prices are being forecast with gasoline being $5 per gallon. That means that diesel will be $5.50 or so. That will mean our fuel bill for our planned 5000 mile trip will be raised by thousands of dollars. Of course, groceries, clothing and everything else will pay the price of higher fuel, so I don't know how all this will play out. We'll see...

So long.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Monday February 27, 2012-Caddo Lake NWR

Happy Birthday to Stella. She has put up with me for a loooong time and today is her birthday.

Today was a pretty good day around the refuge. I helped Todd in making up a couple of equestrian trail signs in the morning and Ron and I put up some new street signs along the auto tour route in the afternoon. I was tired at the end of the day but we had accomplished a lot.

We met for another happy hour on the deck in front of the visitors center this evening. Its a nice way to end the day. We talked about doing a large breakfast one morning and perhaps we'll do a potluck supper one night. We'll all be leaving here before you know it.

Here are a couple of photos of the boy scout troop that came out here over the weekend.

Here is a group photo of the troop with two of the signs they erected. They did a great job.

Here they are preparing to erect the post that one young man is holding. As it turned out, we were not able to drive the UTV's down this trail due to a couple of large trees that had fallen. The boys were able to maneuver around the trees and walk down the trail, but we met them on the other end and got the job done.

Our dogs love to walk down these trails. One of the shorter trails is right across the street from where we are parked and the dogs look forward to me taking them over there. So many new smells to gather! They will certainly miss this place when we leave here in April.

So long.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Sunday February 26, 2012-Caddo Lakes NWR

It was cold again this morning. My thermometer read 37 degrees but the online weather source (Weather I use said it was 27 in Karnack. At any rate, it was cold! I didn't want to come out from under the blankets to go open the gates, but I finally did it. It really wasn't that bad once I got up and began moving, but I was soon back under cover in my chair.

We had decided to go over to Shreveport La. today to visit the boardwalk there and to eat the buffet at one of the casinos to celebrate Stella's birthday which is actually on Monday. Todd and Sue went with us to guide us over there and it turned out to be a perfect day. Brilliant blue skies and temps in the upper 60's made it a great day to be outdoors. We walked around the boardwalk for awhile and did a little shopping at the mall before going to the Sam's Town Casino and Hotel for the buffet. We ate before doing any gambling but soon learned that most of the food was overcooked by now. We thought we were doing a good thing by making it in before the price change for the supper crowd, but we got the leftovers from lunch. The food was just okay, not great like we expected. Oh well, we did save a couple of bucks. Speaking of saving, when we signed up for the club cards, we all got a 50% discount on the buffet, so another savings...
Then on top of that, Todd insisted on buying our meal. He bought Stella's because it was her birthday and mine because I drove. What a nice guy!

The three others decided to go try their luck on the gambling machines, but I saved up even more by opting out. I sat in the lounge and played on my I-Phone and called Phil, none of which cost anything. When they got done, Stella came out a dime ahead, Todd came out a penny ahead and Sue didn't say how much she lost. All in all it was a very good day.

We came on back to the refuge and I soon locked the gates and made the nightly drive through and we were done for the day.

If you think about it and have time, please call or email Stella ( on her birthday. Or even if you're late reading this. Get me some brownie points and tell her I asked you to call her. Thanks...

So long.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Saturday February 25, 2012-Caddo Lake NWR

I was wakened this morning by Todd's truck when he went down to open the gates. I had said that I would do it, but he must have woke up and decided to go take care of it. It is very cold this morning, the outside temp monitor said it was 36 degrees, but our water is frozen up! I went outside later and saw a lot of frost on the windows of the trucks. I feel sorry for the Boy Scouts, having to sleep in tents!

About nine o'clock, Todd came over to see if I was ready to go and I told him as soon as I took the puppies out, I would be ready. While I was on my way back he told me that I had a water leak at the water filter. We discovered that one side of the Y-valve had split and actually came apart when we tried to tighten it. When it broke, most of the copper of the splitter was left in the threads of the pressure regulator, so to keep the water running, I took the regulator off and hooked the hose up direct. IT WORKED!!!

We went out and hosted the Boy Scouts' project of erecting some trail signs. They were typical kids, about one third of them wanted to work and asked to do all the jobs; another third would do what was asked but didn't volunteer and the final group just didn't want to do anything.

I gave the boys a little more work to do in addition to the signs. While separating two of the sign poles, I cut my hand near my right thumb. I bleed very well due to the aspirin I take, so it looked pretty bad with blood all over my hand. The young man took care of me like a champ, although he got a lot of advice from Todd, who was an EMT and an instructor for many years.

Everything got done and the new signs look really nice. Good job Scouts!

We came on back home and later in the afternoon Todd and Ron took the scouts on a tour of the refuge which they enjoyed. When Todd came back, we went up to the shop at the fire hall and fixed the damaged regulator, so we're pretty much back in business for now. I'll have to replace the splitter, but thats not too expensive. It could have been worse!

We sat outside again this evening. This is one of the things that make volunteering so enjoyable. Friends sitting around in the evening and telling about their travels and comparing notes on different locations. Nice...!

So long.

Friday February 24, 2012-Caddo Lake NWR

I went down this morning and opened the gates for the day. It's kind of nice to be up that early, there's no one out and about yet, and I can imagine that I'm waking the deer and other animals in the forest around us. The only sounds in the early morning are the trains that pass not far from here. They blow their horns at crossings as required by law, but it seems that some blow it longer and more often than necessary. It is very apparent that they have a very wide latitude about the use of their horns.

Someone asked me the other day in a comment about what our duties are around here and I forgot to answer, but will do so now. About the only requirement is to open and close the gates. There are contractors that come in early four days a week, so we only have to open the gates on Friday, Saturday and Sunday but we have to lock them every evening at dusk. One thing that was stressed is to tell visitors when the gates close. Several times, people have been locked inside the gates because they became lost or disoriented and didn't get back before the gates close. Getting back to our duties, Todd's wife and Stella both keep the visitors center and the educational center swept, cleaned and stocked with brochures and literature. Then there are a list of projects which we can choose whatever we want to work on, depending on our skill level and simply, our likes and dislikes. There will be more and more mowing as the weather warms and some planned controlled burns will keep us busy when that happens. All that being said, we can work as hard as we want to and the park staff is very easy to work with and are thankful for the volunteers.

Today we had a staff meeting at the headquarters building. After the safety meeting, we all went over to Marshall to the Cafe Italia restaurant for lunch. It was a nice time with all our new friends here.

We returned to the refuge and began making up the items needed for a Boy Scout troop that was coming to stay out here tonight. They will be erecting signs to mark a trail at the Star ranch. The Star ranch is just one block in this huge (8500 acre) refuge. It was owned by the Star family for many years and the old family home remains on the property. It is in need of repair and I was told that plans are being made to restore it.

While preparing the sign posts, we had to cut off some of the post length, which Josh did using a gasoline powered saw. While cutting the first set, he burned a hole through the cover on some protective chaps that he had on. It was a surprise to all of us, but it certainly proved the use of protective clothing. It could have been much more serious had he not worn them.

We had another impromptu happy hour this afternoon when everyone returned from their duties. Nice way to end the day.

The Boy Scout troop arrived about 6:30 and were escorted down to the ranch by Todd and Ron while Stella and I closed the front gates. We do not lock the gates while they are here in case of an emergency. Of course, we all hope that nothing happens, but you can never be too careful, especially with kids.

So long.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Thursday February 23, 2012-Caddo Lake NWR

Well, this morning started off all right. It was cool this morning but spring is coming and it warmed up quickly. I took Todd and the resident cop here, Jason to stake out the locations of the new sign that we had worked on. Once that was done, I was assigned a John Deere riding mower and began mowing the grassy area behind the trailers and some land behind us. It was very wet, so I wasn't able to cut every single blade of grass, but it looks much better now. I probably mowed between 2 and 3 acres and finally got through around 2. Todd had told me about one area on a pathway that has water on both sides and if I was going to encounter a snake, this would have been where it would be. Trust me, I was extra vigilant when I rode through that area! They didn't say anything to me about snakes, but since this is a Wildlife Refuge, I'm sure they would have scolded me if I ran over ANY snake, no matter how venomous it was. Luckily I didn't see any!

When I got through mowing, I loaded it back onto the trailer and took it back to the fire hall where it is stored. I drove it in and washed all the dirt, mud and grass off the mower and put it away. At least I am getting a variety of chores around here.

We came back home and I got caught up on some blogs and many emails that I had gotten. I had forgotten how tiring that mowing could be. It's been almost 2 years since we sold the house.

So long.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Wednesday February 22, 2012-Caddo Lake NWR

Today we had to go to Marshall with Jason, the Law Enforcement officer here at the refuge, to the Police Dept. to be fingerprinted for a background check. Marshall PD uses the new electronic fingerprint scanner that eliminates the use of the messy ink pads that got all over me and the person that I was fingerprinting. Stella's prints went pretty well, but the Crime Scene Tech that was taking the prints couldn't get mine to work. There was either movement of my finger or a bad recording of the minutia of my prints. There is a way to just accept the prints as taken, which is what he had to do in my case. Jason knows that I am a retired Police Officer and is certain that nothing will come back on my record, so everything will work out.

We stopped off at the Whataburger to get something to eat, since we had left before eating breakfast but were soon on our way back to the refuge. When we got back, I got in the truck with Todd to work out in the field and Stella worked with Todd's wife Sue. Ron, the new volunteer met Todd and I at the Fire station and rode with us to do some of our work. When we got done, Todd and I went back to the headquarters building to work some more on the new signs. We got through about 2PM and broke for lunch. Todd and Sue had a problem with their GFI plug in their trailer and went into town to buy a new one and I stayed home and relaxed. Today had been a pretty full day for all of us. None of us will have to be rocked to sleep tonight!

So long.

Tuesday February 21, 2012-Caddo Lake NWR

Another late start, well relatively late-9:30 or so -but we were busy for most of the morning. Todd and I went to the magazine to store the float materials so the trailer can be used again. It was amazing that it took so long to assemble everything and such a short time to take it down. There is so much material stored in the huge warehouses that it blows my mind. There is everything from more trailers to boats and office equipment. Some of the stuff is owned by the State of Texas, from the state park across the street from the refuge. They apparently had a water problem in their storage area and "borrowed" some over here.

We got some new neighbors yesterday afternoon, Ron and Linda. They have volunteered here before and have done some great educational programs and will do them again during their stay here. All of us went out when they backed their trailer in and helped them to get set up. I helped Ron add hydraulic fluid to his pump reservoir and then helped him to get his satellite "homed in". It makes me love my Carryout even more when I see the irritation on other people's faces when they try to get tuned in. After spending about an hour helping Ron successfully get television service, I came back home and took a break (nap).

Linda wanted to have a happy hour about 4:30 on the covered patio at the visitors center, which we went to. We had a nice time visiting with the other volunteers and stayed out until a little after 6, when it was time to go lock the gates for the night. We saw a lot of deer tonight, many more than usual, but everything checked out fine and we made it home in time for NCIS. That's the only TV show that I watch every week, and I hate to miss a new show.

It still gets chilly at night, but its warming up during the days. I'll be glad for summer to return but its been a good winter with no serious cold weather. Of course, during the summer, we'll be somewhere that its cool, so I guess you could say that we have the perfect lifestyle. Get back to me when we're a couple of thousand miles from home and diesel fuel is $6.00 a gallon...

So long.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Monday February 20, 2012-Caddo Lake NWR

First of all-Happy President's Day!

Today, being a Federal holiday, no one was at work here today except us "volunteers" that live here. Todd took care of the gates this morning, and we all stayed in until 9 o'clock or so. Stella went over to the visitor's center this morning to sweep and straighten it up since there were several visitors yesterday. We went out and moved a tree that had fallen into the road but it was mostly dead and very light.

A little later, Stella and I went to the headquarters building to help Todd make up a sign for the equestrian trail. Its a pretty cool operation to cut out the letters and put them onto the sign. We only cut out the letters today because there is more work to be done before we put it all together.

When we got through with the sign, we all returned home to eat some lunch and relax. I, of course, took a short nap. When we finished that, Stella and I went over to Marshall to do some shopping and to get my I-Phone fixed. It would power up but wouldn't allow me to access the phone, and I had decided to just turn on my spare phone and turn off the I-Phone because this is the second time that this has happened. The young lady in the store was very good with the phone and soon had it up and running. Thank goodness...

We went shopping for some boots or hikers for me. If I am going to have to work in the field, I need proper footwear. Also, we have another workcamping job for the fall at the Inks Lake state park, and I can use them there too. I found some very nice ones on a close-out at the JC Penney store. We then went to Wal Mart for Stella to pick up a few items of groceries for the next few days.While there, we ran into Todd and Sue who had also run into town. It had been a good trip and we made some very good buys. At least it didn't rain today. It's still cool but dry.

So long.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Sunday February 19, 2012-Caddo Lake NWR

It was still cold this morning but at least it stopped raining. I woke about 6:30 and panicked that I was supposed to open the gates this morning, so I threw on my clothes and drove over but Todd had already unlocked everything. The gates are supposed to be open at daylight and closed at dusk, so I wasn't too late but I've got to get out of the habit of sleep late.

We didn't do anything today. We were still tired from standing all day yesterday so we took today off. We stayed inside and played with the dogs, which they enjoyed. Stella cut my hair and I took the dogs for a long walk.

There is a shooting range, including a half-mile sniper range here, so this evening I left the gates unlocked because some of the DPS officers are coming out to shoot tonight. I'll be surprised if they come out tonight, but that is what we were told. Tomorrow will mark our first week here. Not that I'm counting the days or anything... I'm really looking forward to our summer trip this year.

So long.

Saturday February 18, 2012-Caddo Lake NWR

We were up bright and early this morning to go Jefferson, a small town about 12 miles away, for their Mardi Gras parade. It had rained all night and continued to rain this morning, at times pretty heavy. Since we had taken the float over already and stored it in a large warehouse, all we had to do this morning was take one of the UTV's over behind Todd's truck, so off we went about 9 o'clock.

This is the rear of the float, showing the refuge sign on the back. And no silly, that's not real brick!

This is the float that we helped to put together. The replica guillotine was built by Todd and Josh, the resident firefighter. The tower in the front of the float is supposed to be a replica of the Eiffel Tower. Someone wrapped it in a gauzy material because she said it looked like an oil derrick. On second thought, it did kind of look like a derrick, but now it's wrapped in gauze.

Here is Stella standing in front of the float. It was still cold and rainy outside, so we stayed inside as much as we could. Stella hated it because there was no running water in the old warehouse, so the restrooms didn't work. As some of you know, she has LBB (Little Bitty Bladder), but she solved the problem by going down the street to a business to use the facilities.

Here is the whole crew getting ready to pull the float out into the rain. Luckily for us, the warehouse had a forklift operator to move it into the proper places.

This is one of the other floats all decked out in the Mardi Gras colors. There must have been close to 40 floats, our number was #31, so it was a big deal for this area.

This was one of the best floats in the parade. I noticed that the float judges just drove right by our float, so I assume we didn't win. We never heard who won, but it's a political thing, decided by the locals.

It rained throughout most of the parade but we hadn't been stopped for fifteen minutes after the parade was over when the sun started coming out. Figures...

We returned to the park and put all the equipment away and came on home, cold and exhausted. We had a nice time but since we're not sure when we'll come back here, unlike Todd and Sue and of course the regular employees. They'll have fun next year too.

So long.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Friday February 17, 2012-Caddo Lake NWR

Here are some more links to information on this refuge where we are:

Thanks Jeremy for sending these to me.

I had to get up early this morning to go open the gates. We lock the gates every evening and open them on the weekend. The park staff comes in at 7, so we open the gates between 6 and 6:30. Its not hard and doesn't take all that long, so I took care of it this morning.

I went down to the fire station where the shop is located to meet Todd. We cleaned up the shop and he took me on a shakedown drive of one of the utility vehicles that I can now drive. Later we went for a ride out onto one of the equestrian trails and removed several trees that had fallen. Again it wasn't hard work but it was certainly muddy back there. We shortened the ride and still it took over an hour to make it, including the time to remove the trees.

We came back and I washed down the UTV to get all the mud off it. If left on there, it hardens like concrete and is much harder to remove, so it was worth it to take the time to clean it now.

I came on back home with a headache. Stella was working on something in the visitors center and while there, she washed some clothes, so it was a good day for us.

Stella and I made the night round and locked up the gates, so we opened the refuge this morning and closed and locked it up tonight. Guess we'll stay for awhile!

So long.

Thursday February 16, 2012-Caddo Lake NWR

Here are some photos of our new home. We are starting to like this place. The longer we stay and the more familiar we get, the better we like it.

Here is our trailer and our truck along with the government Tahoe that we have been assigned. This is a nice site with full hookups but the only trees are behind the site.

Here is a placque about the refuge history. This is a very interesting place and I wish we had seen it before the destruction of most of the buildings. I wish we had a diagram of the buildings so we could visualize the buildings that were there.

This is the visitors center, right next to our sites. This way, if we see someone gooing to the center, we can walk over and make contact with them and offer assistance.

Today we went over to the nearby town of Jefferson, where the refuge is sending a parade float. Acvtually we followed the float over to the storage site pre-parade. We helped Todd, Sue and Josh in putting the last-minute items onto the float. I'm sure that we'll be back for the parade, if we don't get rained out.

After finishing up our chores on the float, we all went out to eat at the Don Juan Mexican restaurant in Jefferson. The food was very good and to top it all off, Josh bought our meal in thanks for our helping on the float. What a nice guy!

I am getting much more familiar with the routes and routine around here. Stella and I made the nightly rounds and locked the front gates. I plan on unlocking them in the morning, so the fun just keeps on keeping on. Liking this place more every day!

So long.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Wednesday February 15, 2012-Caddo Lake NWR

I woke to another cold morning and it has rained on us twice. Just small showers but they were very loud! Boy, it's dark out here! The only lights are a couple of porch lights on the visitor's center and of course, our porch lights from the two trailers parked here.

I ate breakfast and took a short walk around the grounds here and down one of the nearby trails. I saw some of the largest deer tracks that I have seen in a long time, but then remember, most of my outdoor time has been in an RV park for many years. They were big tracks at any rate.

We went down to the park headquarters and helped Todd and Josh make a banner for this weekend's parade in Jefferson. It was tedious work, just the kind of stuff that makes me crazy, but Stella liked it and it was interesting to watch the way the vinyl letters were cut out. When we got through with that, we spoke with Jason, the Federal Law Enforcement officer here and made an appointment to have our fingerprints taken and the background investigation started for next week.

Stella and I went for a ride around the refuge, checking out different locations. Its such a big place and there are no good maps, so its probably going to be an adventure getting around here.

We were forecast for heavy thunderstorms and possibly tornadoes, but it began to rain about 1, and although it rained really hard for awhile, it wasn't that bad. We pulled up the weather channel on television and saw that we had avoided the worst of the storm.

There was a light rain falling but we needed to go to the grocery store, so we drove the 14 miles to Marshall to the Kroger store. After buying the groceries that we needed, we came back to the refuge in a very light misting rain. It looks like it's going to rain all day and night. That's okay, we're warm and dry!

I made my nightly rounds with Todd and boy, was it ever foggy! Glad I didn't have to work too long outside. It's not that cold outside but its really damp. Hope it starts warming up soon.

So long.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Tuesday February 14, 2012-Caddo Lake NWR

Our first morning here was foggy and cold. We were snug and warm in the trailer and it was kind of hard to get up and have to go to "work". Stella and I reported to the main office and were issued our shirts and caps, our keys to everything on this reservation and the keys to a Chevy Tahoe to drive. Wow, we were blown away! We knew that our RV site would be furnished with water, sewer and electric but we learned that there is a washer and dryer as well as propane furnished. It feels pretty nice to be back on the government pay... well, not really pay but nice not to have any expenses except for groceries. Thanks to the taxpayers!

I want to tell you about some of the things that I have learned about this area and the property where we are. The history lesson begins: The Longhorn Army Ammunition plant was established by Monsanto Chemical Co. in tiny Karnack Texas (pop. 775 in 2000) in 1941, producing almost 400 million pounds of TNT during World War II. The plant was closed in 1945 but reopened in 1952 to produce munitions and pyrotechnic devices, owned by the Universal Match Corporation for the US Army. Thiokol Chemical was awarded a contract to produce solid fuel rocket engines at Longhorn until 1971. In 1989 the Longhorn site was one of the sites selected to fire and destroy Pershing missiles.

Most of the buildings that were used for the production and storage of ammunition as well as the buildings used to destroy the nuclear arms are now gone, torn down by the Army. A few shells of magazines and storage bunkers are about all that remain. This was a very historic site and was visited by President George H.W. Bush visited this site to witness some of the destruction of missiles and interestingly enough, one of the only building remaining is one that housed some Russian inspectors for the missile removal.

So much for the history lesson. After Stella and I were issued the Tahoe, Todd and his wife Sue took us around the refuge and pointed out several points of interest and started training us on our activities. After lunch Todd and I went to pick up a new flagpole and took it to one of the storage areas. That was about the extent of our first day here. It's an interesting place and we are looking forward to the next couple of months here.

So long.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Monday February 13, 2012-Moving day-Ron Hoover RV to Caddo Lake NWS

After a miserably cold night, where we were were kept up by the crews returning RV's from the show, we were glad to see some of the techs come in this morning. I went over and spoke with our service advisor, Derek, and told him of the problems of the weekend. He promised to have Ron, the tech that had replaced the electric cord reel motor, to check out our problem.

I stayed inside with Stella and the dogs and saw Ron walking around the shop but didn't see him working on our trailer, so I went in to talk to Derek again. Derek said that Ron had found that their outdoor plug that we had been plugged into was bad and that had been the problem. I went outside and found Ron and he merely plugged the cord into another 50 amp plug and everything began working. Well darn, who'd a thunk it? What a simple solution to this problem but then why would they allow this to occur? If they knew the plug was bad, why not repair it?

Anyhow, we were back in business, so we got busy and started packing up. Of course, it had started to rain, and it was still cold but we still were ready to pull out about 11 AM. Derek pulled the trailer under the drive in canopy so we wouldn't have to be out in the rain, and it was nice to see everything working again. We still had a small problem with the hydraulic jacks but they are just out of sequence and I hope that the more we cycle them, the better they will work and eventually find the correct sequence again.

We took off in the rain and made pretty good time. We made a stop the other side of Cleveland and got breakfast sandwiches since we hadn't eaten. It rained on us just about all the way to Marshall where we turned off to go to our new home at the Caddo Lake National Wildlife Service Wildlife Refuge. We made it in about 4:00 and met with the Park Ranger Gary Neace who escorted us to our new site. We got all set up pretty quickly and were completely up by 6. We met out new neighbors and fellow volunteers, Todd and Sue. Todd and I drove around, making the nightly patrol and checks and he showed me around some of the property. Its going to be very interesting, starting tomorrow when we will be issued our keys and a vehicle to drive. I'll take some pictures of this place to show you.
(hint) at one time, this was a VERY secure nuclear weapon facility!

So long.

Sunday February 12, 2012-Ron Hoover RV. Katy TX

After a pretty bad night, we decided not to travel today as planned so we could get this electrical problem looked into. It was a bad night because it was cold and we had to turn the thermostat down so the furnace wouldn't come on as often to try to conserve as much battery life as we could.

Since we were staying, we decided to go down and surprise Kim and Jeremy and the boys. They had been asking about us and when we would be back in town, so we decided to go see them. We got there and surprised Tyler but Cam was visiting one of his friends and wasn't home yet. Kim, Stella and Tyler went shopping and Jeremy and I stayed at their house and watched some television. They called us about 3 o'clock and we drove over to the Golden Corral restaurant where we had supper. The food here isn't all that great but there's plenty of it. It was good to see Tyler and Cameron again and Cam rode with me back to their house. While riding home, he asked me if he could come traveling with us this summer. Of course I told him he could if he wasn't going to play baseball this summer. That made him stop and think about it but he said he still wants to go. We'll see when the time comes.

We drove back home and found that the trailer battery was dead, which meant that not only were the lights out, the furnace wouldn't work because it takes 12 volts to ignite the propane burner. The television worked but the fridge started acting up. The readout began flashing back and forth between electric and propane and flashing a trouble code. I went outside and ran an extension cord to the fridge but the trouble code continued. We managed to piece together extension cords from the kitchen to power an electric heater and the computers. I had hooked up the satellite dish, so we had good television and our Internet air card worked, so we had plenty to occupy us but it got really cold during the night. It was a pretty bad night but we made it.

Stay tuned for tomorrow's entry.

So long.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Saturday February 11, 2012-ron Hoover RV, Katy TX

We got a good night's sleep and woke refreshed and ready to go back to the show. Of course, it doesn't start until noon, so we've got all morning to kill before we leave. Derek, one of the service advisers here, told me that he will move the trailer to position it for us to pull out tomorrow morning but since he's only moving it a few feet, we wouldn't have to pack everything up or even slide the rooms in. There was another customer's trailer sitting in the space that we will be in, so we had to wait for them to come in and pick up their trailer to get ours moved but that didn't take very long. I noticed that when we went to pull the hydraulic jacks up, they were in the wrong sequence with the electric stabilizers but we finally go it straightened out.

We were on our way to the show by 11:30 with our new Ron Hoover RV exhibitor badges that would get us into the show. We were told that we could also show the badge to get into the parking lot and were told where to drive on the back side of the Reliant Center for the exhibitor parking but when we arrived, we were greeted by a very rude man at the ticket booth that informed me that we would have to pay to park and that there were no exceptions without a parking pass. We reluctantly paid the $10 fee and went into the show. We had another great day of talking to people and saw a lot of old friends throughout the day. Some of the Boomers stopped by and I even ran into one of my college instructors and we had a nice visit. He is a retired Houston police officer as well as being retired from Alvin Community college. He said he tried a couple of years of teaching in a high school after retiring from Alvin but found that juniors and seniors in high school were too much for him to handle so he just retired and moved to his home on Lake Conroe.

We met Bill and Ornell, Tommy and Susan and Ricky and Dee for lunch at Pappasito's restaurant that is nearby. The food was good but overpriced and we all had a good time being together again. We went back to the show and learned that the first parking pass that we bought was not good for re-entry and had to pay AGAIN!! Bummer!

We stayed at the show until after 7 and again had a good time meeting people and talking about the RV lifestyle and living in our trailer. I talked to Dustin Hoover and met his brother Chris and both of them thanked us for coming to the show. It never hurts to "in" with the owners of the company.

Our problems began when we got home. The first thing we noticed was that the water pump wouldn't work, and the lights were very dim. Long story short is that somehow the converter isn't working to convert 110 volts to 12v. Also some of the plugs won't work but the television, the refrigerator and the microwave work so we had a cool night. The furnace worked early but the battery finally gave up and lost power. I think the problem is in the new power cord that was installed with either the wiring being messed up or something shorted out the converter. We will spend an extra night here and get it checked out on Monday. I'll just have to call Caddo Lake and tell them we're still coming but will be delayed. Maybe this problem will only take a little bit to get fixed. Cross your fingers...

So long.

Friday February 10, 2012-Ron Hoover RV, Katy TX

When we woke this morning it was raining again. I don't think it will affect the work that is to be done and may actually make it easier to find the water leak because with the rain coming down, they can just follow the water to the source. At least today, they won't have to move the trailer, so all we have to do is stay out of their way as they work. I learned that the RV show doesn't open until noon, so we have plenty of time this morning.

Ron, one of the technicians here, came by and soon found that one of the slide gaskets was installed incorrectly and luckily they had the material to make the repair. Ron told Stella that once he found the problem, he wouldn't need to come back inside, so we could go to the show when we wanted to. That was good news because we are looking forward to the show.

We left about 10:30 this morning to go get rid of the old tailgate from the truck. The new gate looks really good and it will be a relief to clean up the bed by getting the old one out. We went to a salvage yard in Manvel that I knew of and got about $10 for the scrap metal in the tailgate, or enough to buy us a donut and coffee.

We went to the show and learned that although we had been told that we could probably show our Heartland badges and they might let us in, we were charged the full amount to park and enter the show. Bummer!

We were early to the show and had to stand in line to get in. I was kind of surprised to see as many people going to the show, with the bad weather and all on a Friday morning. We walked around a bit before going to the Ron Hoover booth and saw a few friends along the way. We spent the day meeting and talking to people and had a really good time. Ryan Scott, one of the Heartland sales reps took us to get a bite to eat at the show, which was very nice of him. He really appreciated us being there and frequently sent people to talk to us since we are full timers living in a Heartland trailer.

Bill and Ornell came to Houston this afternoon to stay for the weekend. They will be at the show tomorrow along with Tommy and Susan and Ricky and Dee. I called Bill when we left the show and met them at Pappas Bar B Que for supper tonight. We had a good meal and enjoyed their company before we left to come back home. We were very tired from being on our feet all day, but it had been a good day. Tomorrow should be even better.

So long.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Thursday February 9, 2012-Ron Hoover RV-Katy TX

We were up early this morning because our slide will interfere with the workers coming in this morning, so we had to have everything ready for them to move . They will reposition the trailer inside the fence so they can work on it, so we will have to put everything away and slide the rooms in. We didn't have that much out, so it didn't take long and we were ready to go a little bit after 7. After walking the dogs, we got a couple of our lawn chairs out and sat behind the trailer, watching the people going to work and dealing with the traffic. It was nice to sit outside in the cool morning and watch the world go by as we drank our coffee.

The workers began coming to work about 8 o'clock and after getting moved in and water and electricity set up again, we left with the dogs to go pick up my new tailgate in Pasadena. The guys might need to get inside the trailer, so we took the dogs with us.

A couple of weeks ago, AJ, one of the porters here, was delivering a new trailer to a customer when the new company Dodge truck began to smoke. Before he knew it, the truck was on fire! AJ had the good judgement to unhook the truck from the trailer and drive it away, so although the truck burned up, he saved the trailer. The point to this is, the truck was a white Dodge 3500 exactly like my truck, so I was tempted to change the tailgates-with permission of course- but I found that the company truck's tailgate had dents on it too, so it would have been pointless to trade one dented-up tailgate for another, so I went ahead and bought the one that I had ordered.

Tommy met us at the store and we went to get lunch at a place called Big Tex Burgers in Pasadena. They served a good burger and it was nice to spend some time with Tommy. We haven't seen him since before we left this area in May.

After lunch, we decided to kill some time before going back to the dealership so they could get finished with their work. We were driving down the Beltway when i decided to call my old friend Emile, who is still working at the City of Missouri City. He was working today and had time to meet us for coffee at the Denny's restaurant where he and I used to go when we worked together. It was good to play catch-up with my old friend.

We came on back to the dealership and learned that they had finished up with some of the work they were supposed to do, but hadn't gotten to a couple of the things and planned to work on them tomorrow. We'll have to stay home with the dogs in the trailer because they will have to come inside to find a leak at the slides. We were scheduled to go to the RV show in the morning, but we will likely be delayed because of the repairs. Oh well...

We got everything set back up and settled in for the evening. It turned out to be a very good day. Got to see some old friends that we haven't seen in a long time and got the truck fixed too.

So long.

Wednesday February 8, 2012-Moving day-Mission to Ron Hoover RV

We got up pretty early to get away from here as early as possible because we're driving all the way to Houston. The big problem is that it rained all night long and is raining still. It hasn't rained all month except one night when it showered and today when we're leaving it's raining. And the site we're is a dirt/grass site but most of the grass has died because of the drought.

We made good time in getting things packed up and ready to go and we were ready to hook the truck up by 8:30. When I backed in to hook up, the truck slid sideways and wouldn't line up. I tried several times but all I did was rut up the site. It's a good thing that Tom has a 4 wheel drive because he backed up and on the second try had the truck backed under the trailer. He motored it right on out and into the street and after just a few minutes we were hooked up and ready to go. It only took us an extra 45 minutes! After hugs and handshakes we pulled out about 9:20.

We went down Hwy. 281 this time and I believe it is a little faster than staying on Hwy. 77 all the way. I had gone to the little convenience store around the corner from the park to pick up breakfast tacos for us to eat after we got on the road. BIG mistake! The tacos are very tasty but difficult to eat while driving. I spilled more than I got into my mouth and Tramp loved it but I didn't like all the food that got on the floor of the truck. At least Trampy had a feast at our next stop. He got down on the floor under the steering wheel and chowed down!

We only made a couple of stops and got here to Ron Hoover right on time, about 4:15. We got set up outside the fence for tonight and had a pleasant night. I'm going to be interested in how much they get done tomorrow. We'll see...

So long.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Tuesday February 7, 2012-Mission West RV Resort

Our last full day here in Mission began as usual with coffee with the guys. Some of them even remembered my name, but it probably helped that my name is on my coffee cup in big red letters.

We met some of our Heartland friends at Willie's Bar B Que, famous for their barcued brisket. I had the stuffed baked potato and it was delicious! We all had a nice time together but the group is splitting up. Three of us (including us) will be leaving tomorrow but many will meet in Kerrville at the Sweetheart rally there. We are sorry that we can't go to this rally, but there's always next year.

After we left, Stella and I ran some errands before leaving tomorrow. I filled up the fuel tanks on the truck. It hurts to fill all the tanks but it sure is convenient to be able to travel for 1100 miles or more before having to stop for fuel! Of course, if we find fuel at a good price, we can fill the tanks any time.

We came on back home and I took the porch down and did a few more chores in preparation for leaving. Our last day was a good one, but as I said before, there's always next year.

So long.

Monday February 6, 2012-Mission West RV Resort

These two pictures are from our Ambassador meeting the other night at the Costa Messa restaurant.

Here you see me and Stella, Jim and Nancy and across the table, Kathy. That is Ken in the blue shirt and Nelly's arms.

Here you see Nelly and Kevin being serenaded by the mariachi band that strolled around the restaurant.

These next photos are taken on our trip to Mexico in Renee's Bakery.

L-R you see Sally, Nancy, Jim and Kathy

Here you see Nelly in blue, Kevin's arms holding his food, Roy, Sally, Nancy and Jim in the gray shirt. We all enjoyed our time together in Mexico.

We went with Ted and Donna over to Mexico this morning. We met five of our Heartland friends in the parking lot and we all walked across. We did a lot of shopping and looking before we went to eat at Renee's Bakery. We spent several hours in Mexico before coming back across into the US. It was another good day with our friends.

So long.

Sunday February 5, 2012-Mission West RV Resort

Sunday morning, Jim invited us and 10 of our friends over for breakfast. We took Tom and Judy, so we had 14 people inside his trailer! Its a good thing he has a 40 footer! We all had plenty of room but it was rainy and cold outside, so we all had to stay inside. We stayed over there until almost noon before we left to return home.

We came home and made our preparations to watch the Super Bowl on television. Stella got a recipe from me for some spicy chili that a friend had posted that she made for this evening's meal and it turned out great! Thanks Ray. It was a good day to stay inside as it remained cool, so the chili really hit the spot.

The Super Bowl was exactly that, Super! It was a great game and congratulations go to Eli Manning and the New York Giants.

So long.

Saturday February 4, 2012-Mission West RV Resort

We got up pretty early and went to Furr's Buffet for breakfast with Ted and Donna. Gotta eat at our favorite breakfast place again before we leave! After finishing up our breakfast, we came back home to get our truck because Ted was going to meet with friends to shoot skeet. We took Donna to the fruit market where we bought some fruits and veggies and two folding chairs for Tommy and Susan. They are very good chairs that are very heavy duty and only available down here. After bringing Donna back home we came home and hung out here all afternoon.

I've been working with Tramp while we've been down here by taking him for long walks and teaching him some doggie commands like heel and come. Of course, he's always on a leash so it's easy to make him obey, but I think its working. At least he gets more exercise and comes home and sleeps well. He's much easier to control when he's not with Cassie and is much more sociable. Cassie barks too much at both people and animals, so that's going to be my next doggie project.

So long.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Friday February 3, 2012-Mission West RV Resort

Today we had to take Mr. Tramp to the Vet for his yearly checkup. It didn't take too long to learn that he is in excellent condition, weighing in at 11 pounds, which is a good weight for him. The only thing found was some tartar on his teeth. We bought some treats that help in keeping it off the dog's teeth, so we'll see.

We had tickets to see the Link family with Ted and Donna tonight at Bentsen Palms Village and I had suggested that Jim and several other of the Heartlander group get tickets too and come with us. Jim invited several of us over to his place this afternoon for a quicky potluck dinner before the show. Sadly, when they tried to get the tickets the show was sold out. This is a first time that ANYONE had sold out a show. We ended still going over to Jim's to eat and had a very nice time. The weather cooperated and the guys sat outside while the girls sat inside the trailer. We were excited for Jim, who is getting his new demo Landmark trailer next month and has just ordered a new Ford F-450 tow vehicle. Of course, us guys had a lot of discussion about it while eating. We won't see the new rig until the end of April in Gulfshores Alabama at the rally there.

We went to the Link show but Stella and I were kind of disappointed that they put on exactly the same show as the other night. They added a couple of different songs and still performed very well, but it was a rerun. We won't see them again until next season when we come back down here so maybe they'll have a new show for us.We still love 'em.

So long.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Thursday February 2, 2012-Mission West RV Resort

The weather has cooperated for our events in the valley this year. Yesterday was the first time that we've been able to use the beautiful outside seating at Retama and today was at least as nice as yesterday was.

We had a good turnout for the dealer open house. There were a few details that I felt that could have been done better, but overall it was okay. It was good to see some of our old Heartland friends and to meet new ones. We had a great time again and can't wait for all the upcoming rallies that we are planning to attend.

We went to the Costa Messa restaurant in McAllen with Jim and Nancy, Ken and Kathy and Kevin and Nelly for an Ambassadors meeting. We all enjoyed our meal and were happy to hear that the Ambassador program will continue for at least one more year. It was another good time with good friends.

So long.

Wednesday February 1, 2012-Mission West RV Resort

We didn't do too much this morning because we were going over to the Heartland Owners Meet and Greet this afternoon. I had coffee with the guys this morning and am apparently making friends with them because they include me in their conversations now.

We went over to Retama to help Ken and Kathy set up tables and clean the glass tops of the outside tables. Some of our friends began arriving soon after we got there, but it all worked out. We ended up with about 40 people that came today. There was plenty of good food and I believe that everyone had a good time. I know we did. It was good to meet some new people whose names I see all the time on the forum.

This is really a classy place, Retama Village. We will be looking forward to next year's gathering.

So long.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Tuesday January 31, 2012-Mission West RV Resort

We went over to Mexico this morning again. I had been having some discomfort with my teeth and wanted the doctor to adjust them. It is so nice to be able to go in for adjustments and get in right away. I really do like this dentist!

Remember that Stella had decided to get some glasses in Mexico as I had done? She went in and found the frames that she liked and after a short exam, she was all fitted up. We made arrangements to pick her new glasses up on Friday but they weren't ready and we had told them we would come in today. I had talked to Karen and had learned that they were going to meet with some friends from Michigan in Mexico and we would all meet for lunch over there. The weather was not cooperating and traffic was terrible on the expressway, so we never saw them. It's really expensive to make or receive telephone calls in Mexico, so we couldn't call, so unfortunately we were not able to hook up. Stella picked up her glasses and we got something to eat and came on back home.

We went over to the Tropic Star RV Resort in Pharr to see the Red Head Express with The Walker Boys and the Link Family. It was a great concert and everyone enjoyed it. They have a huge auditorium at the Tropic Star and there were probably 3-500 people there for the performance. We will see the Links again when Ted and Donna arrive later in the week. It's very nice to see Branson performances at valley prices! Another reason to come down here!

So long.

Monday January 30 2012-Mission West RV Resort

Our friends from Michigan, Dan and Karen came over today to visit us and see the new trailer. We had a nice visit with them here and then took them over to Retama Village to show them where we were going for the Meet and Greet. We then drove by the site where Jim B. will be staying when he arrives later this afternoon. Kathy came out and invited us in to see her coach house. Kathy told us the story about how they came to own this place at Retama Village.

We went to a new restaurant tonight, a place called Rick's restaurant, formerly called Granny's Cafe. They are known for their huge mega-burgers, with both a single patty and a double meat. The burgers are so big they are served on a wooden board with a machete to cut them, and many times one burger will feed four people. None of us had the huge burger, but we had a very good meal and plan to come back here.

Dan and Karen had to go back to their hotel tonight but will be coming to visit a friend here in Mission for the rest of their stay. We came back home and sat outside for awhile, enjoying the weather down here.

So long.