October 2008

October 1 - 5, 2008
Wednesday, October 1. Another busy day of catching up with friends. The entrance to the Covance (my place of employment for 25 years until July of 2002) parking lot, has changed so much that I ended up driving around the block before I found the visitor's parking area. A lot has changed over the last 6 years, a parking ramp and lots of building expansions. I met Sharen at the employee entrance and we headed for the brand new, state of the art cafeteria, where we met up with some of the folks that I worked with through the years. We had a real nice visit and it was great to see them all again. Lots of folks stopped by to say hi.

As I was leaving, I got to thinking of how much I like the job I have right now; traveling around the country and staying in touch with family and friends. I really appreciate that we are so fortunate to be living the good life, doing exactly as we please. We certainly don't have as much money tucked away as we would have if we had kept working, but we are comfortable and happy with our decisions.

Leaving Covance, I headed for Stoughton, taking the same route we took to and from work for 18 years. It sure brought back lots of memories. I met up with my longtime friend, Susan, who is in town visiting her ill Mother. We went downtown where we stopped at a few shops, said hello to Evon at the Stationery House, then back to her Mom's house to visit. We could talk for hours, but before we knew, it was time to head out.

Thursday, October 2. Rosemary and Robert invited us to their house in Reedsburg for dinner tonight. I offered to bring some dessert, so I made a batch of oatmeal raisin cookies to take along. It was a great morning for baking because it was only 45 degrees in the house when I woke up this morning. Running the oven is a great thing to do on a morning like this - and the yummy smell of cookies can't be beat.

Rosemary's chili was delicious and she made beer bread to compliment it. After dinner, Rosemary, Rachel and I took the puppy for a walk around the block while Robert, Mike, and Paul played football in the back yard. Paul (age 7) is quite a character. During dinner, he gave us a very detailed play by play description of a game he played with his Dad - naturally, he won with a score of 52 to 38. We perused their vegetable garden and I came home with a beautiful cabbage, some beets, and a jar of her homemade raspberry jelly. Yum! Yum!

We didn't stay long, as they had homework to do, kids to tuck in bed, and we wanted to get home in time to watch the only vice-presidential debate between Sarah Palin (the Republican Governor of Alaska) and Joe Biden (Democratic Senator from Delaware) to be held before the election on November 4. I think they both held their own but tomorrow's news will be full of speculation.

Friday, October 3. Brrrr! My indoor/outdoor thermometer alarm woke me up this morning. It starts to beep when the temperature drops below 38 degrees - it real 34 when I crawled out of bed. It's a good thing the furnace works! And the electric blanket! And the space heater! It is definitely time to head back south to Texas where the worst of the whole winter is like this.

Patty came by to pick me up and we headed to Stoughton to have lunch with Susan. The little Mexican restaurant on Main Street was our choice and we sat there for a couple of hours, catching up and solving the world's problems.

After lunch, Patty dropped me off at Pat's house where I met up with him and Mike. Since it was probably my last opportunity, I drove up to my cousin Fran's house and yakked with her for a while.

A visit to this area is not complete without going to a Friday night fish fry and having Brandy old Fashioned's at Barber's Bay Inn, just north of Stoughton. It was a long-time tradition for us when we lived just a few miles from there. We went with Pat and Tracey and met Roger and Pat there. We each had something different and all agreed that they were delicious.

Saturday, October 4. Happy Birthday, brother Bob!! The tops of the vehicles, picnic tables, and grass are covered with sparkly white frost this morning. Another indicator of what's to come in these parts - time to move on! Within 20 minutes of the sun's heat reaching the frost, it is gone.

We spent the day at Pat's, hanging out in the back yard, smoking a chicken and some ribs on the grill, and just enjoying one of our last days together. The weather was gorgeous!

Frisco and I did take a walk but he was so distracted about all of the squirrels darting every which way, that I had a hard time keeping him under control. Finally, the last 2 blocks we walked, he was pretty good.

Sunday, October 5. A cold, gray, cloudy, rainy, do nothing kind of day led to exactly that - doing nothing. Mike spent part of the day with Pat, going to a gun show in Janesville. I spent the day reading, cleaning, computing, engraving, and napping. Frisco and I did manage to get a walk in this morning before the rain started.
October 6 - 7, 2008
Tuesday, October 7. Yesterday was spent putzing around the house, getting groceries, visiting with Mom, and having dinner with Dan and Sharon.

Mom was real tired when we got there in the afternoon and we just couldn't cheer her up for nothing. Dan and Sharon got there around 4:30 and we stayed with her for a while, but then gave up on our visit when it got to be dinner time for her. It was hard to say goodbye, especially since she was so down in the dumps today.

We drove to Portage to the Tamarack Inn to share beer and pizza with Dan and Sharon. After visiting at their house for a while and 10 minutes into the ride back home, Dan called to let us know that Mike had left his hat at their house. Back we go to Portage to fetch Mike's hat.

Today's chores were laundry, vacuuming, cleaning the windows, and securing the dishes for traveling. Mike spent a good part of the morning trying to get the Garmin Mapsource maps loaded on my computer so we could link it to the GPS. Neither of us were able to complete the mission - don't know what the problem is but it just won't work. We succeeded in downloading an update but not the original program.

It was a rainy day most of the day. Sure hope it clears up for tomorrow's drive, although we are only going as far as Prairie du Chien for a couple of days.
De Forest to Prairie du Chien, WI, 121 miles October 8 - 9, 2008
Wednesday, October 8. Our journey to south Texas' Coastal Bend started today after hooking up the car and filling up with propane. It's kind of sad to leave our family and friends once again, but it also feels good to be moving on. It has been a very busy but enjoyable 2 months.

The fuel tank was filled in Dodgeville at $3.45/gallon, a price that we felt was reasonable until we got to Prairie du Chien where it was only $3.09. Patty told us it was under $3.00 in Iowa - yippee!!

The drive took us about 2.5 hours, traveling along the Old Military Road that once went between Fort Howard near Green Bay to Fort Crawford at Prairie du Chien. It brought back many memories of our jaunts to this area with Pat and Roger. We settled in at the Frenchman's Landing Campground ($13/night with our Passport America membership) just north of Prairie du Chien and right on the main channel of the Mississippi River. The park is quite empty so we have a sight with a great view.

Mike's sister Patty joined us later in the afternoon and we sat around a campfire (they even have free firewood) and cooked hot dogs for dinner. We had a really nice time hanging out.

The flies are pesty, guess it is that time of year and they want to get inside where it is warm - too bad they aren't welcome. I killed several before dinner and another 10 before going to bed. Poor little Frisco thinks he's going to get beaten whenever I take the fly swatter off the hook (must be a memory from his past).

Thursday, October 9. The birds are busy this morning and there is a light mist over the river. Frisco and I walked thru the park and down a wooded path along the river. I spotted a bald eagle sitting on a log on the other side of the river - once again I didn't have the camera with me. Maybe there will be others that I can photograph.

Mike is busy trying to repair the cigarette lighter connection on the dash of the motorhome. As we traveled yesterday, we realized that no juice was getting to the GPS and that certainly isn't a good situation - we may have to go back to the old way of navigating. He also intends to repair one of the storage compartment door handles, as it broke yesterday. Just like a house, something is always needing repair.

After attempting everything he could think of to fix it, it still doesn't work and now the stereo doesn't work either. We will have a quiet trip to Texas and will have to use the GPS sparingly so we don't use up the battery.

Patty spent the afternoon with us and we had a real nice visit. After Mike was finished with his projects, we took a walk along the river path. The day was cool but nice, a campfire felt good. Jim joined us this evening and we had a nice spaghetti dinner.
Prairie du Chien, WI to Emporia, KS,  539 miles October 10 - 11, 2008
Saturday, October 11. Yesterday was a pretty uneventful day of travel. The overnight stop was at the Cutty's Des Moines Camping Club at Grimes, IA, located just north of the I-35/80 on the west side of Des Moines. We have stayed at this park several times in the past. It is a nice place used primarily by people that have memberships and have seasonal places there.

When we got there, we talked about spending a couple of days but after getting a good night's sleep, we decided to move on. We have also made the decision to travel on the Interstate for most of the trip back to Texas. We also decided not to make a stop in Kansas City, although the route would take us right through there. I was feeling kind of bad about not stopping to visit family, but the plan is to drive there in the car for a Thanksgiving visit.

Today's drive was pretty uneventful except for a real bad accident about 20 miles north of Emporia, KS, our destination for today. A young gal and her 18 month old daughter were traveling northbound when her car went out of control and crossed the median and the southbound lanes, rolling several times and landing upside down alongside the road. Three other people had stopped to help her when we arrived. I grabbed towels, wipes, and first aid items and headed there. She had flown from the car, but was sitting holding her daughter when we got there, both of them having cuts and abrasions, but were out of the car. Shortly after, the Sheriff's department got there and took over, so we left. It looked like injuries were minimal but the car (a PT Cruiser) was a mess.

We stopped for the night at the Emporia RV Park, a nice little park for $22.50/night. One night will probably be sufficient, since it is right on the interstate and traffic noise will be loud. Rain is predicted for the next couple of days so we will have to see what develops.
October 12 - 13, 2008
Monday, October 13. I think we have just spent the most time in Oklahoma that we ever have in our lives. We have traveled the east-west routes, including Route 66, but never the north-south route. Parallel to Interstate 35 on the west side is the old Chisholm Trail, where cattle were driven from Texas ranches to Kansas during the 1850's.

Last night, we spent the night in Guthrie at the Cedar Valley RV Park and Golf Club ($11 with our Passport America membership). The park is located on top of a hill with magnificent views from all directions. At sundown, we took Frisco for a walk through the park and enjoyed the sunset and the moon come up. It was beautiful night.

Another historical tidbit: just north of Guthrie is the location where the Land Run of 1889 took place. Thousands of people gathered and when the gunshot went off, they ran to claim lots up to 160 acres. If they lived on the land and improved it, they could then get the title to the land. The population of Guthrie increased by 10,000 on that day.

Monday's drive took us through Oklahoma City and to Thackerville on the very southern border of Oklahoma, along the Red River. The Red River Ranch RV Resort is one of our Western Horizons (Resorts of Distinction) Parks where we pay nothing to stay. These parks are usually advertised as 5-star resorts but are usually fairly run down. I'm sure this park was very nice at one time, but it appears to have suffered some neglect recently. Before arriving, we were thinking that we might stay a couple of days, but after seeing the park and what little the area has to offer, we will probably move on tomorrow morning. Rockport is only about 500 miles from here.

A walk through the park reminded us of those pesky little sand burrs that are everywhere down south. We had to remove several of them from Frisco's paws.

We took advantage of our early arrival to cut Mike's hair and beard and to give Frisco his pedicure. Since we have been using the nail trimming technique recommended by the lady at the boarding kennel in Louisiana, we have seen 100% improvement. Her suggestion was to take control, hold the paw in position (Don't Let Go!) until the dog gives in and quits fighting, then clip away. It works! We went from the vet recommending that he be sedated to total submission. The last 2 trims resulting in NO fighting and the job getting done very quickly. Mike still restrains him, but that might not be necessary any more.
Emporia KS to Thackerville OK, 366 miles
Thackerville OK to Temple TX,  197 miles Tuesday, October 14.
It was a short drive today, but had to go around Dallas on the Fort Worth side, so Mike did the driving while I navigated. It was pretty smooth going, although we got periodic rain.

The plan was to stop at Ancira RV in Temple to have the cigarette lighter and radio checked by Billy, the technician that did the work on our dash AC last May. After arriving around 2:00 this afternoon, we were surprised that they would take a look at it yet today. Billy came out and greeted us in his usual friendly way, shaking our hands with a big smile on his face. He checked the wiring and assured Mike that he did a good job on it, then he checked the fuses and found 2 to replace. Sure enough, they were the culprits and $4.00 later, his work was finished. Guess we will be investing in a fuse checking tool. It was 4:00 by then and we decided to spend the night in their lot (they have full hookups at no cost to the customer).

Wednesday, October 15.
We made it back to Rockport! Mike was on a mission today and stayed behind the wheel the whole 5 hour drive, partly because it was raining off and on and partly because he just kept going. It was nice to be able to use the nuvi (Garmin GPS) and to hear music through the stereo again. On arrival in Rockport, the fuel tank was close to empty again, so we stopped to fill up before heading to our park. We got the best price yet, $2.48/gallon.

We arrived at Bay View Village RV Park, checked in and headed for our site. Since it wasn't one of the available sites that we had chosen back in April, we talked about our options in case we didn't like it. Our primary concerns were to be high and dry (in case of heavy rain) and also to be able to receive the phone and wi-fi signals. The site was none of the above; it was low, near a small pond (mosquitoes), and had junk lying around it. We moved to the site that had been our 1st choice, although we were told that it is reserved long-term, but the people are not coming this year only. I headed back to the office and they said they preferred to leave that site open and suggested the site next to that one as it had become available. Very nice! It is high, has some trees and a nice concrete pad, is good size, and we get the wi-fi and phone signals. We are set for the next few months! I might even have to plant some flowers.

We're tired! It's been a long week of travel and we are ready to settle in again. The motor home and car are filthy, the cupboards are bare, and the laundry basket is full.
Temple to Rockport, TX,  258 miles
October 16 - 19, 2008
Thursday, October 16. Getting back to a more normal routine and lifestyle is the order of the day. Neither of us slept real well last night, the screechy sound of a small tree branch brushing against the vent cover kept us awake. To cut it back was one of the 1st things to get done. It is a lot darker here than what we have been experiencing the last few months and we are not experiencing the extremely loud traffic noise of the parks located next to the freeway. This park is located along Hwy 35 but the traffic slows way down in the evening.

On the way to the grocery store this morning, I stopped at the car wash to remove the week's worth of crud from the trip - I could hardly see out the windows.

A relaxing afternoon, nice dinner, and the latest episode of Dexter topped off the day. When Mike took Frisco out for his last break, a very large animal crossed their path and ran into the woods - probably a deer, as we have seen scat here and there on the ground. Frisco was certainly *bleep*ed and loaded over that sight.

Friday, October 17. We did sleep a lot better last night. Our 2-mile walk this morning took us around the small lake in the park where we saw lots of birds including a Roseate Spoonbill, a Great Egret, a small white Egret, an Anhinga, and some coots and ducks in the water. We didn't even circle the whole park, that would probably be a little more than 3 miles - nice!

I had to catch up on laundry this afternoon as we are running out of clean clothes. Mike took care of the housecleaning while I was doing that.

Saturday, October 18. We took a drive to Corpus Christi this afternoon as Mike wanted to check out an outdoor shooting range - not bad, he plans to try it out some time soon. After that, we stopped at a local car dealer to look at a Jeep they had advertised. Unfortunately, it must have been sold as they no longer had it.

From there we headed back to Rockport and stopped at the Palm Harbor RV Park to see Diane and Jim. They are working as park hosts this season, 2 days/week and are liking it pretty well. The park is right on the coast, their site is less than a block away from the shoreline. It was pretty windy, but nice. We had a great visit over some tasty gin and tonics, it felt good to see them again.

Sunday, October 19. Mike decided to go on our morning walk with us and it was nice to have him along. It's a beautiful morning, lots of critters on the lake and Frisco so enjoys exploring the many scents.

Today is the day to scrub the motorhome. After 2 hours, the job was done and it looks good! It feels good to have it out of the way and we can now touch the storage compartments without getting our hands dirty. Our site provides us good shade throughout the day. We were amazed that we were not actually working in the direct sun the whole 2 hours. It looks like we will get some late afternoon sun on the front of the motor home.

We stoked up the grill and had some salmon steaks, mashed potatoes, and mixed veggies for dinner while watching the latest 60 Minutes on the tube.
October 20 - 26, 2008
Tuesday, October 21. It was time to stop at Watersedge to say hello to some of the friends that we made there last winter. Several folks are back in the park but there are a lot that haven't trickled in yet. The park looks pretty empty, but if I remember correctly, it was kind of slow when we first got here last year too.

After our visit, we stopped at the little BBQ shack for a sandwich, did some shopping for flip flops, and then headed to Ingleside where we wanted to check out the Lakeside Boarding Kennels where Frisco will be staying while we travel to Kansas City for Thanksgiving. The kennel is nice and the owners quite qualified to keep our spoiled little guy. He will be fine there for a week.

On our return back home, we stopped at Walmart to fill up on gas as we noticed the price was $2.17/gallon. Wow! While pulling into the station we noticed Jim and Diane driving in so stopped to say hello to them. It kind of feels like home when we actually run into people that we know at the stores.

Tonight's dinner was excellent! We grilled a pork roast and some butternut squash and had applesauce on the side. Yummy stuff!

Thursday, October 23. I just returned from a long walk on a brisk morning. The first cold front of the season came through here last night, bringing high winds and a drop in temps. It is expected to be around for a day or two. The thermometer read 59 degrees when I got up this morning.

Our hummingbird feeder is back on the window. The migration to Mexico has already occurred, so I'm not sure if we will have any visitors. I see a lot of feeders still up and I believe there are a few that stick around here during the winter - we shall see.

The economic problems have hit us personally this week. Reviewing our accounts for a regular monthly deposit yesterday, I realized that the money wasn't in our account. A call this morning indicated that the deposit was delayed a couple of days because there wasn't sufficient $$$ in the fund - even though my account balance showed there was. Not good news! Our investments balance keeps dropping daily and we keep hoping it doesn't dwindle down to nothing. Guess we might have to start looking for jobs, not sure if there are any available.

Speaking of jobs, I went to the local garden center this afternoon to browse for something colorful for our site. Got to talking with the employee who pretty much offered me a job on the spot. She gave my name and phone number to the manager and I expect to hear from him. It would me 4-5 hours/day, as many days as I would want except the weekend. Guess I might be going to work sooner than expected.

Friday, October 24. While walking this morning, we had a conversation with one of the folks that has been returning to this place for years. He told us that they were going to start pumping oil from a rig in the park, and it happens to be very close to where we are. Not only that, they will be rerouting the road as it is located on the main road coming into the park. Last weekend we noticed there was construction going on by this big pipe coming out of the ground, one of the workers told me that it was an oil pipe and that it was being repaired. Now today we find out that it is actually going to be pumping oil and that it would be starting soon. How nice we both thought as we walked away from there. We sure hope it won't be too noisy, stinky, and yucky. Will have to play the wait and see game as we don't have a clue as to what to expect.

Also while we were walking, Frisco really made us laugh. He started to chase a squirrel that ran up a tree and he actually climbed 10-12 feet up the trunk. Neither of us could believe what we were seeing and cracked up laughing.

This afternoon we took a little drive and stopped at a wildlife viewing area along the road. A long wood pier jetted out into the wetlands and we were able to see quite a few birds including a Cattle Egret, a Great Blue Heron, a Little Blue Heron, a Green Heron, a Great White Egret, and some sandpiper-like shorebirds. Not bad!

Saturday, October 25. This morning I was sitting outside enjoying the sunshine when Frisco became so agitated and excited over something. I couldn't quiet him and ended up putting him inside to calm down. Looking toward the road, I spotted the turtle that he and I saw earlier on our walk. At that time, even though we got up close to take a photo, it didn't spark his interest because it was sitting in one place. Now, it was walking across the grass and his terrier, killer instinct came into play. Mike suggested that I take him over there and let him investigate, so that's what I did. Sure enough, after sniffing it and checking it out, he was no longer interested. Wow! What excitement!

Mike and Jim had made plans to go to Robstown (northwest of Corpus Christi) today to a gun show. Diane and I went to an estate sale in Aransas Pass, then stopped to check out a thrift store and Army-Navy store and found that to probably be more to the guy's liking than ours. When we had enough of shopping, we headed back to their trailer to sit and gab. Had a nice time, naturally finding much to talk about.

On our arrival back at the park, we discovered new neighbors have settled in across from us and they happen to be from Red Wing, MN, one of the places we used to like to visit on our summer escapades with Pat and Roger. They are friendly folks and we look forward to getting to know them a little better.
October 27 - 31, 2008
Monday, October 27. Not much happening around here the last 2 days. just kind of hanging around, talking to neighbors, enjoying the park and NOT having to do anything.

Brisk winds and cool temperatures made for a very enjoyable walk this morning and it seemed that Frisco had a bit more energy. I can't really say that is true for me, but I really enjoy my morning walks and lately have been listening to music gets me going a little farther and longer. A stop at the office yielded a package of mail sent from Jonnie and Marty in Ocala.

When we got home from our walk, I proceeded to get the laundry out of the way and Mike went through the mail and got the house vacuumed and cleaned. The mail reminded me of how wasteful it is to get all of that paper stuff and most of it for nothing, as we take care of a lot of things electronically. And it cost $12 to send the stuff.

When I looked at the clock this afternoon and it said 3:30, I just couldn't believe where the day went. So many times, I think about what it was like when we weren't retired and actually took care of those chores on evenings and weekends. We sure are spoiled.

Tuesday, October 28. At 9:00 this morning, I showed up for my new job, well, at least to "fill out the paperwork" as the store manager had told me yesterday. He wasn't even there, so I filled out the application, then stopped to get a haircut on my way back home.

Mike and I went shopping this afternoon for some solar lights to put around our patio. After leaving Lowes, we passed a car dealer with a jeep sitting in the lot. Mike wanted to check it out as we haven't yet driven one. We took it for a drive and went through the usual salesman's spiel. Don't really think we will pursue it as it is the model with the longer wheel base and not quite what he has been looking for.

Wednesday, October 29. What a fun day! One of Mike's classmates, Bill, was visiting his sister in Harlingen and decided to drive to Corpus Christi to visit with Hair and Judy. They secretly invited us to join them, so when we showed up at their house this afternoon, he was quite surprised when we showed up too.

After visiting for a while, we all got in the boat and took a ride to Snoopy's grill for a bite to eat. The ride was nice and we saw lots of herons, shorebirds, pelicans, and osprey. The mullet were jumping like crazy. Some say they jump to get away from predators, others say it is to get rid of parasites - whatever, it is quite entertaining to watch them jumping and skimming across the surface of the water.

Judy showed me some of her latest art works (her website is listed above in my favorite links). It was a great afternoon.

Thursday, October 30. The started out just fine, but then we noticed all kinds of trucks and workers getting busy. Before long there were graters working, huge trucks loaded with gravel, and the noisy sound of engines running nonstop. We realized that they are starting to work on the oil drill. First, they redirected the main road to the RV park, as the drill sits right next to it. They stretched orange construction fence (known to us northerners as snow fence) along the new road. We will have to see what comes next.

People in the park are talking that a noisy diesel engine will be heard 24/7. We got to thinking that maybe we should look for another RV park to spend the winter, so we did some research about that and found that we do have some options, although not quite as affordable or "natural" as the place we are in. Guess we will take the "wait and see" approach for now, as we are paid up until early December.

Friday, October 31. Yesterday, Mike found a Jeep in Houston that we kind of planned to go see today, but when we got up this morning he had decided not to go, although it was exactly the model, color, very low mileage, and price range that he was looking in. I took off to go to a few garage sales and while I was out, I got to thinking that maybe we should take a drive to Houston today.

After checking with the dealer that the Jeep was still there, we setup the GPS and headed to Houston, about a 2.5 hour drive. There it sat on the lot, looking sweet as can be and 2 hours later, we were signing papers. It is a 2004 Wrangler TJ with only 13,400 miles on it, clean as a whistle and practically new. Mike is one happy camper today. HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

What a sight we had when we got back to the RV park. There is now a tower that goes some 40 feet into the air, it sits on a large platform and there are trucks and tanks parked all over the area.