Saturday, October 14, 2017

Tuesday-Friday October 10-13-T & S Enterprises

This blog entry will document the trading in of our 2011 Landmark Grand Canyon for a 2018 Landmark Oshkosh. We bought this coach from T & S Enterprises in Navasota Texas, and couldn't be happier about this dealer. They do what they say they will do, call back when necessary and always answer their telephones. It was refreshing to deal with an owner of the company who is so willing to make their customers happy.

The Oshkosh is a remake of the Grand Canyon, except it doesn't have the storage! I have lost room for a couple of large items in the underbelly and Stella is still trying to find places to store items in the interior. 

We love the colors, and the simple fact that the entire trailer has been painted should add to the value over the years of ownership.

One thing that I don't like is the white front end and the white ends of the slide-outs. It seems to me that it wouldn't cost that much to paint these items one of the main colors of the coach and it would make it look so much better. I have griped about it for years to no avail, so I guess I'll just have to live with it.

They will be changing my steps out to my beloved Glowstep Revolution steps.

I'm still using the Carryout antenna but will be getting a new Winegard traveler on the roof soon.

Now we will get into the working part of this week. I set our porch/steps up at the door of the new coach and they backed our old one up very close beside it, making it much easier to walk between the trailers, carrying packages.

 It seems to be a large gap between the porch and the doorway of the new trailer, but it really wasn't. I didn't have any trouble negotiating the walkway and never stumbled. Many folks have to "walk a plank" or walk on a 2 x 8 board when they buy a new rig, but this one worked out much better.

I must have gone on a serious diet to get in between the two trailers. Actually, there is more room that there seems and we all made it without problem.

This shows some of the custom work they did for me. The television started out on the wall on the right, or right out in the storage area. DJ, with T & S moved it to the opposite side and then cut down on the retaining wall that protects the television. All of my junk will soon be rearranged and probably put into boxes for storage.

Pretty nice looking rig if I say so myself!

So long.

Monday October 9, 2017-Moving Day-Braunig Lake RV Resort to T & S Enterprises, Navasota Tx.

Well, the last rally of 2017 is over and it was time to pull out for the next stop. Today we are going to T & S Enterprises, an RV dealer in Navasota Texas, south of College Station. 

I found this place on the Internet and was impressed with their pricing. they gave me a better price on a brand spanking new 2018 Landmark than my "other" dealer offered on a new 2016! I was glad to take them up on the offer, so today, off we went to begin the process of taking delivery.

We arrived after a 190 mile, uneventful drive and were soon met by Tim Meadows, one of the owners, who, I had been dealing with over the telephone and Internet. Stella and I were both impressed by Tim and his attitude to customer service. He answered every question that we had and began the walk-through process. Unfortunately, Chessa, the finance lady, was off sick today, so we weren't able to sign any papers today.We went back outside and I began transferring my gear over to the new coach and it soon became obvious that there was going to be a problem with fitting all of my stuff into the smaller underbelly, but I will make do. I worked until about 9 o'clock both inside (helping Stella) and outside. It was a hot and tiring day, but tomorrow promises cooler temperatures, but we'll see.

We stopped working about 5 to eat supper at a barbecue restaurant named Mallet Brothers Barbecue. This place has some of the best 'cue that we've had in a long time. There was plenty of meat with a delightful smokey flavor with just the right amount of hot spices.

So long.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Friday-Sunday, October 6-8, 2017-Braunig Lake RV Resort

Okay, the rally begins today! Friday mornings start with Frank's breakfast extravaganza. Frank and his crew bring the breakfast meats and everyone else brings the rest. As usual, it was great with plenty of food and lots of fellowship. 

The park has some meals that are open to the guests here. Monday we had burgers, today they had a lasagna dinner with salad, drink and dessert, and they have breakfast on Saturday and Sunday but we didn't partake of either of them. The lasagna was delicious and filling, and we all were very satisfied. After, we had the rally meet and greet. We had one newbie, William, but his parents had come in to visit him so he didn't make it to supper or the meet and greet. A large group, including Stella, played dominoes tonight. Actually they played every night and seemed to have a good time.

Saturday we met for a light breakfast at an open site next to Michael and Kelly's site. It was cool and damp every morning, but we sat outside until the heat of the morning made us go home. Kelly put on an Instant Pot demonstration today and me and several of the guys attended to act as testers for the food. She made meatballs with pasta and sauce in about 15 minutes and it was delish...
Everyone was on their own during the days; some went to San Antonio attractions, some ran errands and others just stayed in the park and hung out. 

Kelly, Stella, Nancy and others prepared pork butts for a pulled pork dinner tonight. I believe that most of them used their Instant Pots and of course, everything was perfect. Everyone else brought side dishes to go with the pork along with desserts, and as usual, perfect! After the meal, Louisiana Chapter Leaders Andy and Joanna passed the "traveling sombrero" to Michael and Kelly. This was a tradition that has gone dormant for a couple of years and I am glad to see it begin again. Dominoes finished off the night.

Sunday morning, there were a few folks leaving, so we got up and went down for the light breakfast furnished by the club and to visit with those that were leaving. The weather soon turned warm and most of us went back inside where it was cool.

We got back together for a supper of leftovers from last night. I think the pork was even more tender than last night! Even though there wasn't as much food as there normally is, it was good and there was enough to satisfy everyone. After the hall was cleaned up, we all went back home to begin preparing to leave in the morning.

So long. 

Wednesday & Thursday, October 4 & 5, 2017-Braunig Lake RV Resort

Two easy days of pre rally fun. Wednesday, we went into San Antonio to eat at the Buffet City. This place was okay for food, nothing spectacular, but not bad. The food was fresh because when we came in with a large group, they put out lots of fresh food, so it was a good choice for supper. 

We came back to the park to sit outside and chat with our friends until the skeeters sent us back inside. It rained yesterday so there was plenty of standing water and small ponds for the skeeter larvae to live in, and they feasted on some of us. 

Thursday we made a trip over to the El Mercado in San Antonio and ate at the famous Mi Tierra restaurant. The El Mercado is a group of Mexican shops selling trinkets and other goodies from Mexico. We were not interested in them because we see the same things offered in Mexico when we cross the border later in the year and buy items for about 1/3 the price! The Mi Tierra was one of my Dad's favorites and we went there often with him. I personally thought the food was bland and tasteless and very expensive, but it brought back memories of good times with my Dad. 

The rally starts tomorrow!

So long,

Tuesday October 3, 2017-Braunig Lake RV Resort

We decided to go to Bellville to get our license plates (truck and trailer) renewed. We had tried to get them renewed online but couldn't have them mailed to the address where we were. We called and were told that we could have them mailed to us but the park where we would have been (present location) would not accept mail, only packages.

We invited our friends Michael and Kelly to ride along with us for the day-long drive and we all left about 9 o'clock. We made good time, since it was was all on freeways and made one stop, at the Buccee's in Luling. Buccee's is a must-stop any time we get near one, so we all picked up something to snack on and continued on our journey. 

The stop off at the county courthouse was laughable in the time taken to renew the plates. Stella was only inside for about 15 minutes and that included getting her handicap placard renewed as well. It would have taken us more time than that to find a parking place at one of the big cities. There are certainly advantages to "living" in a small county.

We decided to drive over to Navasota to the T & S RV's store there. We didn't tell Michael and Kelly that we had made a deal for a new trailer there and they are interested in looking at new ones also, so it was a worthwhile trip. We hadn't met Tim, our salesman and one of the owners of the dealership until today and he went along with our ruse. We all went into the Landmark Oshkosh that we were buying. The four of us sat there, chatting about new trailers, when Michael said "I can see y'all in this one" and I replied "come back next week and you WILL see us in this one!". You would have had to be there to see the look on their faces! We had pulled it off. I told them that it just hadn't worked out for us to take delivery before the rallies, but we will get it next week.

We spent about 2 hours in the trailer with Tim, looking everything over and talking about what will happen next week when we come to get it. We were all impressed with Tim and his helpfulness and look forward to actually making this purchase from him.

We stopped at Tony's Family Restaurant in Sealy for supper. This is a favorite of our's and we stop here every time we are in the area. We continued on our drive back to the park in Elmendorf and arrived back home about 8 PM. Then we had the fun of telling everyone else about our new coach and talking about it with them.

The rally will begin on Friday, so more fun to come!

So long.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Monday October 2, 2017-Moving day-Tyler Oaks RV Resort to Braunig Lakes RV Park

Well, the time came to close out the north Texas chapter rally. We were up at 6 to drink our coffee and eat a quick breakfast before getting started putting things way for travel, and we made good time. We pulled out about 9:10, or just about right on time. We almost always plan on leaving between 9 and 9:30.

We made good time and State Hwy. 31 is an excellent road, smooth and wide on a divided highway. There was little traffic out this morning, so it was the perfect day to travel. I only had to use the train horn a couple if times today to wake some people when the wandered into out lane. We pulled onto I-35 in Waco and there was little traffic there as well, but we did run into some pretty serious traffic in Austin. There were no accidents and no major construction, so we continued to make good time. We made a couple of "rest" stops, one at a nice little convenience store where we picked some good ol' truck-stop burritos and a piece of chicken to munch on while we drove. We will keep the peanut-butter sandwiches that Stella had fixed for a later meal.

We had more traffic in San Antonio and New Braunfels and a couple of slowdowns but we continued to roll and pulled into this park about 3:30. We were escorted to our site, but a large, mostly dead tree interfered with our slide outs, so we asked to be moved to a more open site. No problemo, so we were soon set up and started cooling everything down. 

The park offered a dinner special tonight consisting of a hamburger, chips, glass of tea and a nice chunk of cold and sweet watermelon for a grand total of $5.00. With a bargain like that, who could resist. There were 6 trailers that made the trip from Tyler today and three of us went down for the burgers. 

We sat outside chatting with Dave and Nancy, Lin and Deb and Michael and Kelly came by with our rally t shirts until the skeeters ran us back inside. 

We love travel days like this one. Sunny skies, not too hot outside, good roads and reasonable traffic make for a delightful traveling day. Here's hoping for many more of these!

So long.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Sunday October 1, 2017-Tyler Oaks RV Resort

This entry will document what we did for the rest of the rally days here in Tyler.

Wednesday, Stella and I made a flying trip to the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles to pick up some documents. When we returned, we went to make a stop at Wal Mart and while there we noticed a Mexican restaurant across the street called Posada's. We decided that this would be a good place to go for supper, so when we got back to the park, we passed the word to the rest of the group and our party was of 19 folks to eat! We kind of overwhelmed the wait staff but they did very well with our orders.

Thursday several of us went over to the First Monday sale at Canton. Stella and I went over about 10, but all the walking took a toll on her, so we cut the shopping short. We walked for about 3 1/2 hours before giving it up, and we didn't buy a single thing! Well, except that she wanted a funnel cake. I guess the thrill is gone from Canton, at least for us. We didn't talk to anyone that really enjoyed shopping there.

Friday was our Breakfast Extravaganza! One member, Frank and his wife Debbie LOVE a huge breakfast with lots of biscuits and gravy, friend potatoes, eggs and lots of breakfast meats. Frank always furnishes the bacon and sausage and recruits others to help him cook and several others of us furnish and cook the rest. A big breakfast is always a favorite and this one was no exception. There was plenty of food for everyone!

We had a Meet and Greet scheduled for 7PM but we decided that since we had so many chapter leaders here, that we would take Dave and Nancy and Michael and Kelly out to eat for their Chapter Leader benefit. We went to a place called Jumbo's Seafood. Larry and Gayle were also here at the rally, but they were still in Canton and didn't want to go with us. We'll catch them later. 

The Meet and Greet was very nice with plenty of Blue Bell ice cream for all. This is a large rally, with 28 rigs attending. Originally, there were 34 signed up, but some dropped out, two the day before the rally began.

Saturday morning the club furnished coffee, sweet rolls and yogurt for breakfast. Quite a change from yesterday's feast! It was good and we enjoyed catching up with friends, both old and new. 

Around noon, our West Texas Chapter Leaders, Tony and Erika came in for the rally. They drove in from their home in west Texas to visit the rally and to see friends here. Like the others before, we took them out to lunch and had a very nice time visiting with them.

Saturday night was the big potluck dinner. The club furnished barbecue, sausage, brisket and turkey and it was all delicious. Members brought side dishes and it was another delightful supper. After the meal, several people played dominoes and many of us sat outside in the great weather, visiting and chatting.

Sunday morning was the official end to the rally, with another sweetbreads, coffee and yogurt for breakfast. Several people were leaving today, so with hugs and handshakes, we wished them well on their travels.

We had an impromptu Chapter Leader meeting, with Tony and Erika, Dave and Nancy and prospective Chapter Leaders Jason and Audra. Dave and Nancy had said that they have served the club as North Texas Chapter Leaders for over four years and they felt that it was time for them to step down. We had a very good meeting with Jason and Audra and feel that they will make fine chapter leaders. It is sad to see a couple that has done a lot for the club step aside, but nice to see a qualified couple step up to take their place. We will be looking forward to Jason and Audra's confirmation and then working with them in the future.

It has been a good rally with a great turnout and now to top it off, a new change in leadership.

So long.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Tuesday September 26, 2017-Tyler Oaks RV Resort

Wow, talk about a busy day! That would be today...

We began the day by meeting Janie, Doug and Linda for lunch at La Madeleine in Tyler. We had a very nice lunch and visit with them. We went by Doug and Linda's office to get some copies and discovered that their office is two doors down from a Dish Network store that we had gone to last year to buy a new control box. We didn't know at the time how close they were. Ironic!

We had reconnoitered where the larger Discount Tire location in Tyler was located, to make sure that we could get in with our trailer. After lunch we returned to the park to complete the preparations for moving and left the park about 1PM. I had told the guys at Discount that we would be there between 1 and 2 and we barely made it! Keep in mind that it's about 25 miles to the other side of Tyler from the park. 

The guys at Discount had a bit of an issue when they tried to use an air powered lift that would not go high enough. They tried everything to make it work but no luck, so they had to use the old-fashioned mechanical jack to lift the trailer to change the tire.

You can see the unused air jack beside the trailer. It pained the young man to have to use the old fashioned jack, but it did the job!

He first tried to back the trailer using the axle, but I corrected him and asked him to use either the frame or the hydraulic leveling jack. I would have used the hydraulic jack, but my battery was down and it wouldn't work. 

You can see how worn the outside of the tire had become. I assume that this was caused by the broken spring that we had repaired in Oklahoma. 

They got through with the tire change in about 30 minutes and we were on our way to Tommy's Towing,  distance of about 35 miles. When we got there, Tommy said, "I see you got a new tire" and never went out to actually look at the new tire but just signed off on the inspection. There was probably nothing for him to look at, the tires all matched and were the same size, so it was unnecessary for him to look closely at the tire. After getting the signed off release on the inspection, we went back to the park. we probably drove a total of about 150 miles in all today! Then when you count that we folded everything up to move it and the set up when we returned to the park, we were tired! No one had to rock us to sleep!

We have more errands to run tomorrow but should then be free to enjoy the rally.

So long.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Monday September 25, 2017-Moving Day-Roadrunner RV Park to Tyler Oaks RV Resort, Tyler Texas

We were up right about on time to get started on our trip back to Texas. We made good, steady progress in packing up and were ready to go about 10AM. We were traveling alone today and most had pulled out before we did, but that's all right, we're not scared to travel alone...

We made our first pit stop at an Oklahoma rest area at mile marker 59. It was  routine stop and I was proud of Stella for not making me stop earlier. As soon as we pulled in, we saw Michael and Kelly, who had left several minutes before us. We found out that they had passed Mike and Peg, but we had not seen them. We had a short chat with M & K and they went on their way.

We continued on I-35 and made our next stop at the Welcome Center just across the border in Texas. I had gotten a little drowsy and wanted to get some coffee while there, but they no longer have coffee for travelers. We have stopped many times at various welcome centers in different states and have always gotten coffee, but not this time. I still had some left from this morning, but remember, we were both taken off regular coffee for decaf long ago, so it didn't help me too much with staying awake. Luckily for us, the walk across the lot into the welcome center roused me enough to continue on our trip. 

Guess who we ran into here? Dave and Nancy were just about ready to pull out when we arrived. We had a short visit with them and learned that they had seen us at our first stop. They are going back home before coming to Tyler, so this is the last time to see them before they come down to Tyler.

We were soon on our way and again made good time on the dreaded 635 Loop around Dallas. All was well until we ran into a construction area that slowed us to a stop. We sat in traffic, creeping along for fifteen or twenty minutes when several emergency vehicles passed on the shoulder. Police cars, Sheriff cars, a Highway Patrol car, ambulances, fire apparatus and a command vehicle all traveling east bound on I-20 made us concerned for our friends that are ahead of us. We finally got to the road construction that we had been warned about for several miles. Of course, we couldn't see ANYONE actually working, but they did narrow the lanes to one lane, as we had been repeatedly warned about. We also saw a red car that appeared to have overturned on the other side of the freeway. I believe that there may have been someone in the car because I saw several first responders look into the car and the ambulances that had arrived had not loaded anyone up to take them to the hospital, so it looked pretty grim for the passenger(s) in the car. At least none of our friends had been involved!

We need to renew the license plates on the truck and trailer, so we had researched someplace to stop along our route to get them inspected. Texas now has an asinine law that a vehicle must be inspected for safety issues before being issued new registration, so we stopped at a place called Tommy's Towing in Wills Point. We had intended to stop at the Explore USA RV dealership but they don't do inspections. They referred us to Tommy's, so it all worked out. We ran into a problem with one of the tires on the trailer. It had become out of alignment apparently when the springs had broken on the way to Oklahoma but that had been corrected. The tire would not pass the safety inspection, so we had to return to Tommy's after getting a replacement tire installed. I guess we could have taken it to another inspection shop, but we had already paid Tommy's, so we will return to get it inspected. The truck passed inspection, no problem.

We arrived here at the Tyler Oaks park about 4:30. Michael and Kelly were here along with Lin and Deb & Mike and Peg. Terry and Carol arrived shortly after we did, so everyone that was coming from Oklahoma was here. 

After a quick set-up, we were ready to visit with our friends. We sat outside with some of them until the bugs started biting and we went back inside. It's good to be here among friends!

I didn't set up the sewer hose because we intend to go finish up what we started today and that would be one more thing to do tomorrow. Stella called one of the Discount Tire stores in Tyler and had ordered a replacement tire for the trailer, so the plan was to meet Janie for lunch (previously planned), then to go pick up the trailer and take it to Discount Tire to have the tire installed and then to drive back to Tommy's Towing to get the inspection done on the trailer. Sounds like a full day tomorrow!

So long.

Sunday September 24, 2017-Roadrunner RV Park

Well, another Oklahoma Rally has ended and it was another good one! This was Rex and Stacey's last rally as chapter leaders but Orville and his wife Barbara have stepped up to take over. I'm sure that they will do very well in their new role.

I want to recap what we did on Saturday. We had our normal get together in the morning with sweet rolls and coffee before splitting up for the day. Many of the folks that will be leaving tomorrow (Sunday) went to get fuel or make other preparations, but the rest of us just hung around, visiting with friends, old and new. 

Rex and Stacey prepared another fried fish "extravaganzas" for us. I'm not sure where Rex gets the huge amount of fish, but there was PLENTY for everyone as well as hush puppies, and it was very tasty. Rex manned the fryers to cook everything, and the rest of us brought sides and desserts for supper.

Saturday night, we played a card game called Cards Against Humanity. It's an interesting game, but fair warning, it can get pretty raunchy and some of the language is X-rated. 

Sunday morning, there was another coffee klatch, but there was a lighter turnout, possibly because several trailers were leaving this morning. I walked around to say goodbye to those that are pulling out and wished them well. The last day of a rally is always rather bittersweet, because the fun's over for now. Of course, for us and many others, the fun will continue in another location.

Orville had suggested that we try a restaurant called Earl's Ribs Palace today, so this afternoon, a group of about 14 went over there to eat. The food was good and the service was great. We enjoyed our meal and spending time with our friends, some of whom will be returning home after this rally is over. We will continue on for the last rally of the season in Elmendorf Tx.

So long.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Friday September 22, 2017-Roadrunner RV Park

Today I went with a group of the guys from the rally to the 45th Infantry Division Museum in Oklahoma City. It was an infantry division of the US Army from 1920 until 1968. Headquartered mostly in Oklahoma City, the guardsmen fought both in World War II and the Korean War but traces its lineage from frontier militias of the southwest United States throughout the 1800's.

There is a huge display of weapons from flintlocks to modern that are still used today. The guides and docents are a wealth of information on all displays and the background of them. 

The building that the museum is housed in is very interesting. It was built by the WPA in 1930 as an officers club. When people learned of this, there were so many complaints that the building was converted and used as an armory. It was made into the museum after the division was inactivated in 1968.

There is a large amount of information on the American Civil war as well as many other wars from the past.

This display consists of artifacts from Adolph Hitler's personal use items.

This cape was actually worn by Hitler as seen before in a German photograph.

This white-framed mirror was in Hitler's residence and is probably the last thing that he looked at himself in before committing suicide. Lt. Colonel Horace K. (Tony) Calvert recovered the mirror and had it shipped back to the United States as shown in the photo below.

The airplane on the pedestal is an F-80 "Shooting Star" jet powered aircraft that was used extensively in the Korean war.

There is a huge display of military equipment here. I have shown you a few pictures of some of the interesting items.

The Bell UH-18 (Huey) helicopter used by various branches of the military. It was first flown in 1956 and variations of it are being flown today.

This is a heavy tank that was produced by the Detroit-Chrysler corp. which ceased production of them in about 1973.

This is a "Scorpion" anti tank self propelled gun.

This is a command and recon carrier. It was apparently used as reconnaissance vehicle commonly used by field commanders. It provided heavy armament for secure reconnaissance patrols.

This is the famous "Patton" tank used by the Army from 1952-1977.

If you are in the Oklahoma City area, you may want to visit this interesting little museum. It is worth your time.

So long.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Wednesday September 20, 2017-Roadrunner RV Park

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

A diagram of the area.

Photo of the destroyed Federal Building.

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

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

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

Newspaper headlines and articles on the attack.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A better photo of The Survivor Tree.

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

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

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

So long.