January 2009

January 1 - 4, 2009
Thursday, January 1. As far as the weather is concerned, we are having a beautiful start to the year. As far as how I'm feeling, a little under the weather but not bad. We made it to midnight but were headed back home shortly after cheering in the new year. People around here are really into fireworks, so there were a lot of them going off as we walked home under a clear and starry sky. Poor Frisco was a mess and could hardly even go potty. It took him quite a while to settle down when the pops were finally over.

We have been getting ready for our move tomorrow, taking down Christmas decorations and putting away stuff that is sitting around outdoors. I had to wash the windshield as it gets covered with Frisco's nose prints. It has been hard to get at because of the Christmas tree and lights.

The park had chili this afternoon but we opted to stay home and take naps instead of going.

Friday, January 2. Moving Day. No rush, just took our time getting things secured and ready to move. The trip to Port Aransas was uneventful, as was the ride across the ferry. Our site at "On The Beach RV Park" was waiting for us when we arrived and it didn't take long to get settled in.

Naturally, we had to take a walk on the beach right away. Frisco loves it. We were supposed to go to a meeting of the Coastal Bend Parrot Head Club but felt lazy and didn't go. We were also a bit concerned about the fog, as it has been pretty dense the last few mornings.

Saturday, January 3. I had a plan to get up real early, like 5:00 this morning to see some meteor showers that have been predicted. Needless to say, I didn't make it. I did wake up early, hearing the barking of the Great Dane puppy next to us, but rolled over and went back to sleep and completely forgot about the meteor showers.

Frisco and I had a great walk on the beach this morning and he even went into the water. I don't think it was quite intentional but he was all excited about playing with another dog and chased after it. He had a ball. When I got back, we spent a long time trying to get the motor home level, as we realized we were way off kilter last evening (soft ground and one tire was on the concrete). It took quite a while but we finally got it.

Once settled, we went over to get to know some of the neighbors, nice couples from Ohio and Champaign, IL. I made a trip to the local grocery store and did a couple of loads of laundry this afternoon.

Sunday, January 4. Dense fog rolled in during the night and you could hardly see across the street this morning. We walked along the street instead of the beach. By the time we had finished our showers, it had cleared a bit so we took Frisco for a good romp.

This afternoon, we went exploring Port Aransas Click For More Info. The town isn't that big (population-3400), it sits on the north end of Mustang Island, formerly called Wild Horse Island by the Spaniards in the 1800s. A small fort was built here during the Mexican War and was used until after the Civil War.

We found that a long, sand road extends along the ship channel that runs between the Gulf of Mexico and Aransas Bay. Several paths went off in different directions but Mike wants to do some research before taking the Jeep back there. We did see several ATV's traveling off road. Wherever you go around here, you run into water, so it's hard telling whether the ground is firm or soggy. It's better to be safe than sorry, especially since we don't have tow hooks mounted on the Jeep yet.

We stopped for lunch at the Trout Street Bar and Grill, where we had a nice table on the deck overlooking the Harbor. I have never tried shrimp tacos before and it was excellent, as was the clam chowder and loaded fries that Mike had. Drinks weren't bad either.
January 5 - 11, 2009
Monday, January 5. Frisco and I had a very chilly walk this morning, as a cold front came through late yesterday afternoon and it was only 45° this morning. The coastal fog made it feel a lot colder (kind of like a chill factor, huh).

We took care of business today, I worked on financial stuff and Mike took care of car stuff. We took a drive to Rockport, as Mike wanted to talk to a welder about getting the Jeep set up for towing. It sounds like it won't be too much of a problem and won't cost an arm and a leg as it would if we took it to a car or RV dealer.

Other than having a nice conversation with Pat on the phone, not much else was going on. I made a pot of Cabbage Creole soup for dinner, a recipe I got from Raybelle at Watersedge last winter. It was very tasty and we had enough to freeze for a few more meals.

Tuesday, January 6. Happy birthday, Randy! It was cold again this morning but by around noon it had warmed up comfortably and by 3:00, it was close to 70°. We had a nice walk on the beach and found a few nice shells. Frisco sure has fun running and frolicking and chasing sea gulls.

We got to gabbing with Tom and Peggy (full-timers from Ohio) over *bleep*tails and before long, we were invited to bring our chairs to Chris and Jean??s (new full-timers from Champagne, IL) site where we sat around a campfire. Before long, Sandy and Pat joined us. They are both recent widows from the Austin area that are here for a vacation. Sandy is a veteran RV??er with a new motor home and Pat has never RV??ed and owns the hot pink Geo Tracker that they tow. Sandy was telling us that her TV hasn??t worked since she bought the RV and was describing her plans to get it to work. Before long, Tom, Chris, and Mike headed to her motor home and ten minutes later, they returned and she had TV with cable. RV??ers sure are a friendly and helpful bunch of people. The conversation became quite lively and we had lots of fun, even got to try ??Buttery Nipple? shots (butterscotch schnapps topped with Kahlua) made by Peggy and Jean.

We lasted around the campfire until 8:00 as we both wanted to watch ??The Old Man and the Storm?, a documentary on Frontline about one family??s struggle to recover from Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. It was well done and left us feeling sad about that whole miserable situation.

Another recent example of how helpful and friendly RV??ers can be: the couple next to us (we haven??t even gotten their names yet) are probably in their 70??s, from Canada, and they have a 7-month old Great Dane puppy, Dante, sharing their 24-foot motor home and they don??t tow another vehicle behind them. On Saturday morning, we saw the EMT van pull up to their site and the man was taken to the hospital. Several people from the park came to help disconnect their motor home and make it ready for her to drive it to the hospital, where she would be able to leave Dante while she visited her husband and she could stay right there and wouldn??t have to travel back and forth. There was a problem with her holding tanks and it was going to take some time to get it all cleaned up. A woman from the park took her and Dante (she didn??t want to leave him in the care of others, as he had never been away from her) to the hospital.

Later on, when they returned, her motor home was all cleaned up and ready for her to drive to the hospital. This really took a lot of effort because when you are parked for the winter, things that you use on a daily basis come out of storage (in their case, bins that are carried on a frame attached to the back of the RV) and many items got stashed in areas of the RV that aren??t in use, such as the driver and passenger seats, under chairs and tables, and even outdoors. Before it could be moved, loose objects had to be secured and the seats cleared and made ready for travel. Most importantly, the holding tank mess had to be cleaned up, and this was all taken care of by their friends in the park.

On Monday afternoon, they returned to the park. He was diagnosed with pneumonia, was treated with steroids (he had been through chemotherapy treatments within the last year) and he told me that he was ??back from the dead?. They were happily greeted and helped to get setup again by people in the park. A celebration is planned for Saturday afternoon but we probably won??t be able to attend, as we will be in Houston visiting Casey and Dennis.

Thursday, January 8. The south Texas weather was absolutely perfect today with clear blue skies and temps that had to be in the mid-70??s. I was way overdressed for my walk this morning, taking off my fleece hoody and tying it around my waist as soon as I got to the beach. Lots of nice shells washed up during the night and I had a pretty good hall by the time I got back home. None were very big but there were some unusual ones in nice condition.

Mike agreed that we should spend the afternoon at the beach, so we packed a bag with snacks, water, camera, kites, books and magazines and loaded them in the car, along with some chairs. We drove south on the beach for 9 miles until we were past all of the fishermen and condos and even beyond the last mile marker (we started at 18 and the last was 103, they are spaced every 10th of a mile apart) . At that point, we parked the car and setup the chairs. Naturally, I strolled along looking for treasures but didn??t find a lot. Mike attempted to fly a kite but the wind was too calm - not a problem with either of us as it tends to be quite windy along the coast, the reprieve was nice.

Frisco was put to the ??off leash? test and passed with flying colors. He gets so distracted at times that we have been afraid that he wouldn??t come to us when called. A steady stream of his favorite treats (chicken jerky) kept him headed for us whenever he was called. We had a huge area to ourselves and there was very little traffic, so he got to experience the freedom of being un-tethered to the leash for a while. After running around and chasing the seagulls for a while, he was perfectly content to just take a nap, between our 2 chairs.

It was mid-afternoon when we got back and we still had quite a few chores to do, like laundry and getting the sand and salt washed off the car. By the time dinner was over, we were both exhausted and I was in my jammies and retired to the bedroom by 7:00. I read and talked on the phone for a while, Mike computed and we hit the sack around 9.

Friday, January 9. By 10:00, we were on the road to Houston, first making a stop at Ingleside to drop Frisco at the kennel for the night. The ride was uneventful and not much of interest seen along the way, other than a huge billboard that said ??WE SUE LAWYERS!?. When we got to Houston, we made a stop at PPL Motorhomes, an RV consignment dealer as there were a few motor homes listed on their website that we wanted to see but we weren??t impressed with either of them. A very nice 37?? Beaver Monterey did spark our interest but it is a bit out of our price range and a little bigger than what we want. I??m sure we will both be looking on the internet for that model in the future.

Our real reason for the trip today was to see Casey and his Dad, Dennis. Casey was at MD Anderson for a follow-up to his last MRI that showed an area that might be of concern. Mike sent Casey a text message to see how things were going and he was at his last appointment of the day and would probably arrive at the hotel about the same time we would. About 10 minutes after we arrived, there was a knock on the door. It was so nice to see them both as it has been since March and Ben and Jill??s wedding. They were glad to let us know the good news, that there have been no changes for Casey over the past 3 months. They left for their room, to get settled in and take a breather after their long and stressful day.

Casey had a rental car so we headed to Rice Village to the El Meson restaurant where we enjoyed a relaxing drink, a great meal, and even better conversation. For dessert, we went to Amy??s Ice Cream and had Mexican Vanilla, coconut, and chocolate ice cream. The mixes are made to order and it was delicious. When we got back to the hotel, we sat and talked until we were all too tired to carry on any longer.

Saturday, January 10. We met up with Dennis and Casey in the lobby and had a nice breakfast and an hour??s visit, then we said our goodbyes. They were both headed to the airport where Dennis had a direct flight back to Minneapolis but poor Casey had to make connections in San Antonio and Denver before he would get back home. Fortunately, the weather shouldn??t affect their flights today.

Mike and I talked about seeing some sights in Houston (battleship USS Texas, a glass art exhibit, the human body exhibit), but instead headed straight back to Port A. By the time we picked up Frisco and arrived at home, we had been on the road for 3.5 hours and we were both tired and glad to be home. Frisco was happy to see us but kind of nervous and upset, confused about not knowing what was going on. We wonder if he has memories from his past about being in kennels, although he doesn't seem nervous when we drop him off.

Shortly after we got home, there was a knock on our door and there stood Jerry and Judy, a couple (from Rhinelander, WI) that we met through Hair and Judy. They were in Port Aransas to compete in the belt sander races, their sanders are named the Cheese-sleds. It was nice to get visitors and we sat and talked over a beer until they had to leave. We both felt kind of beat after a poor night??s sleep and a long drive, so we opted to stay home instead of going to see the races. Guess we??re getting old.

January 12 - 18, 2009
Monday, January 12. Such a busy day it was today. Mike enlisted the help of Tom, Chris, and Willie to install the tow hooks on the Jeep. They are welders, machinists, and mechanics and offered their help. Chris and Tom both tow trailers filled with tools and toys, so they had everything needed to get the job done. When that was finished, they all set about replacing the slide-out awning on Tom's motor home.

By 10:30, I had the grill going with 2 racks of baby back ribs for our dinner with Hair and Judy this evening. They arrived around 2:30 and it was good to see them again, as it has been since Christmas. Both are finally recovered from colds that have kept them home since then. After an "Old Fashioned", we took a nice walk on the beach, came back and finished cooking the ribs, then feasted on them. After 5 hours of cooking, then had a feast. After 5 hours of cooking, they were nice and tender, falling off the bone and delicious (might just have to compete against Pat's 1st place ribs in the cookoff next summer). Along with the ribs, we had beans, potato salad, and Boston cream cake for dessert. As usual, it was great to hang out with those two again, we had lots of laughs and good conversation were the order of the day.

Tuesday, January 13. Back to school! We are taking a Spanish class here at the park, taught by Ema from Guadalajara, Mexico. She is teaching us some common phrases like, ?Cuanto cuesta? How much does it cost? and ?como te llamas? What is your name? The study plan is to also learn the song, "Cielito Lindo" and in February we will be cooking a Mexican meal for the park and will perform our song. Fun, huh! Now we need to practice, practice, practice.

This afternoon, Mike and Hair went to see the movie, "Valkyrie" with Tom Cruise, a historical thriller film. It is set in Nazi Germany during World War II and depicts the July 20, 1944 plot by German army officers to assassinate Adolf Hitler.

I had planned to go do some shopping while they were at the movie, but I just didn't feel real good, kind of like I was coming down with a cold. I stayed hope and was lazy, taking a nap and not doing much of anything else.

Wednesday, January 14. No cold, thank goodness! I was just fine this morning, so decided to do my shopping today. After walking the beach and taking a shower, I headed for Corpus Christi's strip of stores. I was looking for a new quilt for the bed, have just been getting real tired of the dull colors I had and wanting to brighten up the place a little bit. My quest took me to several stores and I finally found what I was looking for at Target, my last stop of the day.

When I got back home, Mike was napping, so I started the laundry. I have found that later in the afternoon, the laundry isn't busy and there are usually some machines available. This is a pretty small park, so they only have 4 of each and they are used almost constantly.

Speaking of this park, we are really liking it here. The folks are friendly and we are certainly enjoying the view and the close proximity to the beach.

Friday, January 16. The last 2 days have been pretty uneventful for us, as I spent yesterday getting prepped for my colonoscopy procedure today. I was pretty upset when I arrived for my appointment at 9:00 this morning but sat there impatiently until I was called in for the procedure about 12:30. Spending 3-hours sitting and waiting is not an easy thing for me. Apparently, they were having problems with the equipment that printed out the video findings.

Anyway, all went well, the news was good, and we don't have to be concerned with that for another 5 years.

Saturday, January 17. We were awake at 5:30 this morning but had hopes of going back to sleep. Mike was successful but no such luck for me. Here I sit at 6:00 in the morning, at the computer for my morning routine of reading the news and having my coffee. After yesterday, I deserve a treat, so am having Cafe Du Monde (New Orleans) coffee, now all I need is the Beignets (warm powdered sugar coated pastries) to go with it. I don't believe I will be finding them around here.

Frisco is so cute in the morning. If he hears us stirring, he comes into bed between us because then he gets "the treatment". He becomes mesmerized with our petting and rubbing his belly, almost as if he is in a trance. Naturally, we both think that is just so cute! After living with us for a year and a half, we are noticing some changes in him. He seems much more secure and actually comes to us to initiate affection or playtime. In the past, he was always accepting of our attention, but didn't really come to us and let us know he wanted it. We both agree that he adds a lot of joy to our lives. Like Mike's Mom would say, "What's not to love?"

It was a beautiful and busy day for us. Mike and Tom spent some time this morning installing Nerf bars (steps) and tow hooks (for the safety cables and in case we ever need to be pulled out of a situation) on the Jeep. The steps really help for my getting in and out, since I'm such a shorty.

While they were doing that, Jim and Diane stopped by. Diane and I took a walk along the beach, collecting some shells and catching up on the last few weeks, since before Christmas. When we got back to the park, the guys had finished their project and we all had coffee and sat around and talked. It was great to see them again and we now have plans to go to Victoria on Friday to an RV show.

After dinner, we took Frisco for a little walk and ended up hanging out with Tom, Peggy, Chris and Jean and their dogs. Sweet Pea is Tom and Peggy's Yorkie, a real sweetie and Goose is Chris and Jean's Yellow Lab, a quite verbal and nice dog. Poor Sweet Pea had just walked in an area of sand burrs and her poor little feet were full of them. They all seem to get along well.

I have to share a Goose story. Last week when the 4 of them were out surf fishing at a rather secluded area of the beach, Chris and Jean let Goose run off leash. He got pretty far away from them and near a fisherman. Chris called and called but he wouldn't come back. Goose stopped to sniff at the guy's bait bucket, then sauntered to his tackle box, lifted his leg, and took a pee. When Chris got there he apologized and offered to clean it up, but the guy just told him to get away and keep his dog under control.
January 19 - 25, 2009
Monday, January 19. It is a beautiful morning as I sit here reading the news and checking for the latest e-mails and facebook entries. The forecast is for sunny and 73 degrees - Yeah!! We spent a half hour doing our community service, taking a Red Cross online class on emergency preparedness. I decided it would be a good day to go shelling, so I called Judy and she was up for it. Mike and Hair would rather see a movie.

Judy picked me up and we headed about 9 miles south, we parked and proceeded to look for goodies on the beach. I ended up with a collection of starfish, turkey wings, baby's ears, olives, some unidentified metal, the jaw of a fish and 2 bags of trash. Not a bad few hours. Back at their house, Mike and Hair were watching The Bourne Identity at home as the theater was packed (Martin Luther King Day). We had dinner with them, a delicious sausage and chicken gumbo.

Tuesday, January 20. Inauguration Day. What an occasion, our 44th president was sworn in. We couldn't resist watching the ceremony and I have to admit I was a bit emotional at times, certainly hopeful that good changes will come about.

It was also a day to have the motor home washed by the pros. It was a good thing because they spotted a couple of leaks and repaired them. Not only that, they found a cracked vent over our refrigerator, offered to pick one up for us and to replace it for us. We took it easy this afternoon until 4:00 when we had our Spanish class. We are enjoying it and hopefully, we won't forget everything we learn once the class is over.

Wednesday, January 21. I did the grocery shopping today, you sure can't escape a trip to the store without spending $100 these days, and I only had 7 bags of stuff.

I thought about shampooing the carpet today but that's as far as I got. Instead, I just futzed around the house, sat in the sunshine and did puzzles and read my book. It was nice and cozy warm if you avoided the wind, I even changed into a pair of shorts and tank top to expose some of this fish belly white skin. Then I had to put on a sweatshirt when I took Frisco for a walk.

Thursday, January 22. As I walked the beach this morning, I was reminded of winters back home in Wisconsin. The plows were out moving the sand that had blown over the roads the last few days, pushing it to the side of the road. Much like the snow removal process but there is no chance of it melting away here. The dunes are reinforced in this manner, a process that has to be repeated frequently. Unlike being bundled in multiple layers of heavy, warm clothing, I was wearing flip flops, capris, and only a light sweatshirt.

Hanging around the park was the order of the day, doing laundry and cleaning house. It was another gorgeous day.

This afternoon, we went to Little Joe's BBQ for a chopped brisket sandwich loaded with onions, pickles, and jalapenos. Once we were suitably stuffed, we made a stop at the Port A Kite Company to look around. I've been thinking about hanging a spinner from a pole mounted to the ladder on the back of the motor home. We couldn't decide, so left the store without spending any money.

After having Reubens for dinner tonight, we watched the movie, "Sweet Land", a story about the Norwegian immigrants that settled in Minnesota and the struggle over one man's marriage to a German mail order bride. There certainly was discrimination all through our history.

Friday, January 23. By 9:15 this morning, we were on the road to Jim and Diane's place in Rockport. They invited us to go to Victoria to an RV show today. Unfortunately, the show was a total bust, sponsored by the local dealer in Rockport and they had the same stuff that has been on their lot for the last year or so. No price reductions or new products. We stopped at an Italian restaurant for a late lunch and the food was very good. That made the 1 hour drive worthwhile.

We offered to pick up some dog food for the people next door to us. They have Dante, the Great Dane and do not tow a car, so have a hard time getting dog food. Dante was quite excited to get that delivery.

Saturday, January 24. Last week, I bought a bright, multi-color striped quilt and pillow covers for the bed. Today's project was to recover the valences on the windows with a fabric that coordinated with the quilt. It really was quite easy and it makes a big difference and brightens the bedroom a lot. The only project remaining is to remove the wallpaper border. I'm hoping that the hair dryer will make that an easy job to do.

We went to the pot luck in the park this evening and had some good home-made dishes to try.

Sunday, January 25. It was another cool and cloudy day today, so we decided to take a drive and see if we could find some ghost towns that Mike had been reading about. We drove about 40 miles north of Corpus Christi to Deniro, the first place on the list. The only thing there was a country store and no other markers. The next place was called Clareville, the crossroad showed up on the GPS but there was nothing there either. Our last attempt was a place called Blue Berry Hill and the only thing we saw there was a hill, a very small hill. Another bust. This part of Texas is just not very exciting, miles and miles of cotton fields in all directions.
January 26 - 31, 2009
Monday, January 26. It was a busy day. Mike's morning project was to repair the plastic cover that shields the electic step mechanism. Yesterday, we discovered that it had fallen off and was lying underneath the motor home. After much contemplation and research on the internet, he had a plan and headed for the hardware store. Since the plastic had become brittle and the part that held the screws was no longer there, he had to be creative. Thanks to Yankee ingenuity, he had it repaired in a couple of hours.

My project was to complete my bedroom redecoration. I removed the existing wallpaper border because it no longer coordinated with the fabric on the bedspread or the valances that I recently recovered. Using my blow dryer to loosen the glue, I was able to peel it off without any boo boos. We are both quite satisfied with the outcome, it brightens up the bedroom and even makes it appear slightly larger.

This afternoon, we stopped to pick Hair up and headed to the movie to see "Gran Torino" with Clint Eastwood. It was great, a story about a disgruntled Korean War vet who sets out to reform his neighbor, a young Hmong teenager, who tried to steal his prized possession, a 1972 Gran Torino.

After the movie, we headed back to Hair and Judy's where we had *bleep*tails, visited, and had a wonderful dinner of Pesto Pasta with Shrimp. Their friend Ricky joined us for dinner and it was a great time, as usual.

Tuesday, January 27. It was a beautiful day and we just hung around the house all day. We were invited to a fish fry this afternoon so we opted to miss our Spanish class in order to go. Several men donated fish and there were 4 of them cooking various types of fish, oysters, and clams. Others brought side dishes, salads, breads and desserts. At last count, there were 44 people enjoying good food and company. It was a nice time.

Wednesday, January 28. Another front moved in during the night, bringing a drop in temperature and wind that shook the motor home. The morning was a COLD, 39 degrees so Frisco and I had a short walk this morning, just long enough to take care of business. It got much nicer later in the day and we were able to take a long walk this afternoon.

It was a good day for making chili, I think Mike could actually live on that stuff.

Thursday, January 29. Our Spanish teacher, Ema (the park's owner) offered to give us a make-up class this morning. We're having fun and learning a bit too.

It was a good day to catch up on the laundry and house cleaning because it was kind of chilly. In fact, when I took Frisco for a walk on the beach this afternoon, he wasn't even interested and turned to head for home as soon as we hit the windy beach.

We went to "The Gaff" for pizza this afternoon with Tom and Peggy. The pizza was delicious and the place was quite interesting, a beach bar with a pirate theme, also one of the places where belt sander races are held. Tom and Peggy were excited when we told them we played Euchre since they haven't found anyone in their travels that play the game. When we got back from dinner, we played a couple of games, we're tied one and one, so naturally there will have to be a grudge match in the near future. It was a fun evening.

Saturday, January 31. Here we are, the end of the 1st month of 2009. Not much happening around here the last couple of days, just keeping busy with projects around the house, cleaning, reading, eating, and hanging out with people in the park.

I was reading an article at Madison.com this morning. Since it has been such a cold winter this year, there is talk about resurrecting the Statue of Liberty that rises out of Lake Mendota. It was first placed there during the winter of 1979. We thought it was quite a piece of art back then and I was glad to hear that it is going to make a comeback. Check the photo gallery for a picture.

Today's project was to re-caulk the kitchen sink and do some repairs to the caulk in the shower. That kept Mike busy for a good part of the day. I went to city wide garage sales this morning for a while, not a lot of good finds. I did stumble on a sale to support the Animal Rehabilitation Group at the Marine Science Institute. They rescue and rehabilitate injured and sick animals, then return them to the wild. Sounds like a good opportunity for some volunteer work next winter.