Friday, January 26, 2018

Friday January 26, 2018-Cottonwood RV Park

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

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

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

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

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

So long.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Tuesday January 23, 2018-Cottonwood RV Park

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So long.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Monday January 15 and 16th, 2018-Moving days-Bay Colony to Cottonwood RV Park, Mission TX

We left cold Dickinson this morning to what we hoped would be warmer temperatures in Mission. We got bad information (go figure!) from the weather-guessers on television about the expected weather this morning. We were told that temps would still be in the 30's and when we woke, it seemed that cold, so we didn't get in a hurry to pack up and leave. There was not that much to do and we didn't get started until after 8, but when I went out, expecting cold, I was pleasantly surprised at the warmer weather. I had also worried about the traffic in Houston and wanted to delay our leaving to give the morning rush to finish. I didn't think about it being a holiday (Martin Luther King) which had eliminated some of the traffic, so with our getting started later, we had no problems with traveling through Houston. We breezed right on through without even a slowdown.

We made the mandatory stop at Buc-ee's in Wharton for a bite of breakfast as well as a pit stop in the "cleanest rest rooms in the world". It was only a few miles to our overnight stop in Victoria at the Gateway to the Gulf RV park. For some reason, we were both tired and after a quick set-up, we were both napping in our theater seats. We ate a quick supper and were again down for the count. It started raining and got much colder during the night, so when I went outside to begin preparing to leave, I was surprised to find sleet falling and ice covering the drivers side of the truck and trailer. The wind was blowing hard, making it miserable to be outside, so I completed my job and went back inside to decide what we were going to do. We knew the park was supposed to fill up tonite, so since the ice wasn't sticking to the pavement, we decided to go for it and push on to Mission.

It continued to rain/sleet on us and the temps never went about about 33* on our way down. So much for warmer weather in the Rio Grand Valley! We took the suggested (Garmin) route of a shortcut to US 281 to go into Mission. I was surprised to find the U.S. Border Patrol checkpoint (southbound) was closed. The northbound side was open for business but everything on the southbound side was gone. I guess they finally figured out that the illegal aliens are going INTO the United States, not back into Mexico.

The rain had tapered off into on again/off again, but when we got to Cottonwood, it began to snow! How crazy is this? After dodging around some orange and tangerine trees, we finally got backed in. It seems much easier to get set up but the only difference is that I don't have to set up the satellite dish now but it does seem to go faster.

I told you it had been cold on the way down. To demonstrate, it was 47* inside the trailer when we went in and set up ALL the heaters and furnace! it didn't take long for the temp to come back up and we could thaw out. There wasn't much visiting with our friends that are already here, but we will start catching up with them soon.

Later in the afternoon, after the snow stopped falling (not sticking, we drove over to Martha's restaurant in Donna. This has been one of our favorite restaurants since we first came down here in 2009. We had stayed next door at the Casa Del Sol on our very first trip to the Valley. Good times...

It's good to be here with friends and many things to do.

So long.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Saturday January 6 thru Saturday January 14, 2018-Bay Colony RV Resort and Mailing Center

This will be another catch-up entry to bring things up to date on a week that we spent at "home" in Dickinson.

Saturday January 6th we just stayed home and rested from our trip down from Inks Lake. 

Sunday January 7th we drove up to the Rayford Crossing RV Resort in Spring to visit our friends Tommy and Susan. They took us to a tiny Oriental food restaurant, whose name escapes both Stella and I. The food was good and the service as well. We will try to find it again the next time we are in the area.

Monday January 8th, Stella had to go to the cardiologist for tests to be run. While she was in the office being tested, I sat outside in my truck reading my Kindle. 
Monday afternoon we drove to Stafford where we met my good friend Emile for lunch at the Sweet Tomato in Stafford. Sweet Tomato is one of my favorite restaurants and I try to go there as often as I can find one. They specialize in salads but they also have a nice selection of Italian dishes and a good selection of soups and breads. 

Tuesday January 9th we both went to doctors. We went to Dr. Dorothy Merritt in the morning for routine wellness checkups. All of my numbers were good and when they checked my vision, mine was better than Stella's! We both had to go to the cardiologist in the afternoon, me for  routine checkup and her for results of her tests. We both passed with flying colors and were told to return in 6-9 months, which we were glad to hear. At least now we don't have to make a flying trip down for an appointment with him.

Wednesday January 10th Stella did some shopping at the JC Penney's store and some others in the mall that is nearby. After shopping we went to Gringo's Tex Mex restaurant in Texas City to meet an old friend and classmate, John Maisel. John had damage to his home and wanted to buy a travel trailer to live in temporarily while his house is repaired and I helped him choose one. John and I lived close when we were in grade schools in Galveston. It was good to spend some time with him and catch up.

Thursday and Friday we just ran errands and got some things caught up. It rained some and the weather turned cool, but we got some things done that needed doing, so we made good use of our time.

Saturday we went to the Lakewood Yacht Club for a retirement party for Frances Carter, a long-time secretary for the Hall family that owned the Citizens State Bank where she and Stella worked for many years. It was good to see many old friends. Stella saw many people that she hadn't seen in years, after her retirement from the bank. Oh, the stories that those two can tell...!

Sunday we met Kim, Ray and Tyler for a late lunch at the Topwater Grill to celebrate my birthday. Kim had invited Cameron, who has moved out of her house to live with his dad, and he declined to come. His loss...
We had a delightful meal and visit with them. Tyler just turned 21 years old and I'm pretty sure that he will be venturing out on his own soon. I miss my boys.

That about sums up our boring week. We spent time with friends and family, got some errands done and most important of all, took care of our medicals, so we are clear to travel. Rally season will begin soon.

So long.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Friday January 5, 2018-Moving Day-Inks Lake state park to Bay Colony Resort and Mail Center

Today was the day that we dreaded. It is necessary for us to leave a couple of weeks early to make some doctor's visits in Dickinson, and today is the day. I always have such a good time with the deer hunters, and it's hard to leave, but it's important to take care of our health. 

We woke and began getting thing done inside. I went outside a little before 8 but since we don't have very far to go (275 miles) we weren't in too much of a hurry. I made good time outside with my chores, but several of our friends came by to say goodbye and I was probably delayed by an hour or more. I'm not complaining because it is so good to have many friends to say adios to. Stella's inside work went very well but we were still late in getting away. 

It was about 11 before we pulled out of our site, but we got flagged down at the headquarters by the parking crew. Our friends Bill, David and Dean came out to flag us down because our brand new Traveler television was still up! We had both forgotten to "stow" it in the travel position. We stopped on the road and tried to put it away, but soon learned that it takes 110 volts to operate the antenna, which meant that we had to turn around and go back to our site to hook up to power. I don't have the adapters to go from 50 amp to 15 amp any more. I had them when we had the house and kept the trailer plugged in at home, but that was 9 years ago. It didn't take long to get the antenna down, once power was hooked up, and we were again leaving, but it was about 11:30 when we pulled out of the gate. In our defense, this was the first time we have had to put the antenna down. When we left T&S, where we bought it, they hit the necessary buttons to stow it and today, each of us thought the other was taking care of it.

There was a bad accident with an overturned gasoline truck in Bertram, in the route that we had planned to take, so we took another route down U.S. highway 71 as an alternate route. The problem with route is that it took us through Austin and lots of traffic! As we drove, I noticed the estimated time of arrival on the GPS kept getting later and later. We were making good time (I thought) and going the normal speed but the time just kept slipping away. Maybe they were taking all the traffic into consideration... We hit Houston during the evening rush hour, which slowed us even more, but we finally pulled into the Bay Colony RV Resort about 4:30. Actually, this is about the normal time for the distance we traveled, so I guess it's not so bad. I was soon backed into the site and in a short time we were hooked up and home again! It's nice to hit a button and the TV antenna searches and locks automatically.

There is still a lot of damage and closed businesses in town from hurricane Harvey. We had planned to eat at either Whataburger or Monterrey Tex-Mex but both of them are still closed. Bummer! We ended up going to the Whataburger in League City and had a great meal. It's good to be back in our home area, but things have changed. Traffic is just as bad in little bitty Dickinson as it is in Houston. During rush hour, it's not unusual for it to take 10-15 minutes just to get out of the park parking lot! I guess that's life in the big city...

So long.

Thursday January 4, 2018-Inks Lake state park

This post will be the last one from Inks Lake for this year. I will show you some of the deer blinds but only the ones that I take hunters to. I will also show you some projects that are going on at the state park.

The main entrance sign. 

This is the truck that I have used for several years to take hunters out in.

Longhorn Caverns is another state park that is managed under the control of the Inks Lake staff. It is also on Park Road 4 and a short distance away.

The public areas along Park Road 4 are known as the Hoover Valley.

I will begin showing you the blinds in numerical order. This is #10, a regular, single blind. 

A view from in front of the blind. Look closely and you will see the deer feeder.

Blind #14 is an ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) certified blind. It is designed for two people, the hunter and his/her assistant. There is a bard surface area, suitable to supporting and allowing a wheelchair to navigate. Also notice the ramp, and inside you will find a carpeted floor and a shooting able with a padded rifle rest. All of the ADA blinds are similarly equipped.

A view out into the pasture where the feeder is. It's about 80 yards to the feeder. 

#15 is another single blind. These are about half as wide as the ADA blinds.

This is a pond that is almost dry this year. For the last couple of years we haven't been able to use this blind because of high water in this blind. 

This is #16 and one of my favorite blinds. Many deer have been taken here and this year one of the largest deer was harvested here.

A close up view of the feeder.

When I walked up this morning to take these photos, I saw a group of three deer, a 6 point buck and two doe that ran off together. Then this pretty little doe, who was alone and stopped to check me out, ran from the area right in front of the deer blind. A split second after taking the photo shot, she too ran away.

On the way back to the park, I am always awed by the sight of the Falkenstein Castle. I can only guess at the breathtaking views from the upper stories from the castle.

The LCRA (Lower Colorado River Authority) has begun to drain Inks Lake for maintenance. The park will use it to repair the docks and boat landing while the water level is low.

I don't know if the entire lake will be drained but suspect that there will be small holes that will hold water. The lake is only about 800 acres but seems much larger. We were told that the fish in the lake will be able to go into other bodies of water along with the water.

No boat launching for awhile!

I always thought the water was deeper in front of the pier.

This is a group of LCRA employees that are searching for fresh-water mussels. The are aaaaall the way across the lake, but no one is safe from the zoom lens.

I certainly thought it was deeper here!

A view of the store from across

Construction crews are working on a new bathroom on the north end of the park. They haven't been too active this week, but I guess they want some time off between Christmas and New Year.

This is about the only ice remaining after all the cold weather. This is the back side of our trailer and is mostly in shade. I left a small Y-valve partially open to prevent freezing in my hose and this was the result. I hope that we've had the last of extreme cold weather for this year. I am ready for warm weather.

So long.