Thursday, December 9, 2004

2004 Blogs

December 9, 2004 - Our Second Annual Christmas Shopping Trip
Last December we went to Beaumont (where the malls are near us) and did our Christmas shopping. The toad made easy duty thru traffic and Gulf Coast RV Resort has a great Passport America rate and is a nice home base. The trip was short, close and successful.

November 11, 2004 - Trip to Houston
As it turned out, Smoking Joe and Judy were preparing for Joes medical proceedure the same weekend that our daughter Sara's birthday so we moved to Shiloh RV Park in Sugarland to spend a few days with Joe & Judy and Arby & Blondie and take out our daughter for her birthday the same weekend. WendyGuy and B&B from Victoria along with Buzzbird joined us, Arby & Blondie at Joe's son's house for a very nice dinner. Joes two grandchildren provided entertainment as well as a lot of catching up and reassuring Joe of our wishes for a swift recovery..which he is enjoying now. We left Shiloh on Monday as Joe was going into the hospital with Arby & Blondie at their side....Arby called later to tell me "Thanks for the step"..yes, I drove off with my little leather covered wooden step still sitting by the door next to Joe's rig...oops.

September 27, 2004 - The Homebound Leg
Our motto changed while at Boothbay with the gift from Terbie/Skip and Brenny/Chris of tee shirts that read "All Who Wander Are Not Lost". We did our share of "wandering" on the way home. Our trip included Cooperstown NY, the museums there are well worth the trip. The place is campground poor but we survived.While in the area we wandered to Sharon Springs,NY where we found a little apple orchard and had a treat of seeing fresh apples ripe for the picking and aht "best" cider ever. Next was Niagara Falls leg which began at Turning Stone Casino where we met up with Skip and Terbie. Turning Stone almost made me turn a new leaf in the gambling arena....I think some of my grandparent's cousins still work there.....we made our donation and hit the road while able to afford gasoline. Next was the border crossing into Niagara Falls Canada, where we awaited Hugh and Camy (FC) to arrive for the weekend. NF for those who may not have seen it yet is awesome. The Canadian side is the best view and FC you are right the KOA on your side is perfect. The trip on the Maid of the Mist tour boat into the falls is the bargain of the year...what a trip. I am sure many of you have seen the "blue smurf" photo of me in my boat provided rain gear taken by Terbie....the only picture she got all week that came out. She missed the one of Skip climbing in through our coach window...yes, we too got locked out of our coach in Niagara Falls CA....I think it is a Canadian initiation or something. At least there were not two dogs licking his face and no disk space on the camera to record the event....darn. On October 3, 2004 while in Canada our rig turned one year old. With 19,439 miles on the odometer....we noted the event.

Next we sadly sand goodbye to FC and Camy but the road was calling us Southward. Gabby had given us a tip about Berlin Ohio...and what a find that stop was. We spend three days there and along with Skip and Terbie met up with Heybob & Barbara as well as Joe & Judy ( Smokin' Joe) from the chat room We met a former chatter who was in the room before the first rally and she promised me that she would come in and re-introduce herself to the chatters. Berlin is in the midst of Amish country and a real treat to visit. Thanks Gabby and Okie for the tip.

This leg we left Skip and Terbie, going in two directions. Oddly enough we were getting gasoline behind Francis and Virginia from Ohio who we had met along the trip and they were headed to Salem Mass...small world. We stopped at Frankfort KY, Elkhorn Campground which proved to be a scenic spot well worth a couple of days.

We made an overnight stop in West Memphis and by this time rain had set in and was forecast for the next four days due to the tropical storm that had come ashore near New Orleans so we hot footed it to Texarkana for one night then to Havens Landing in Richmond TX before going home on Oct. 12. after 4,675 miles and 45 nights on the road. We are planning our next trip to Kinder Louisiana in early November.

September 19, 2004-Boothbay, Maine
When we were about two hours from Boothbay we received a call asking if we wanted lobster for dinner tonight.....a last minute plan to have lobster delivered to the campground prompted the 5 lobster for $33 we ordered our share.....Dominos could not have done a better job at twice the price... Our second ever Chat Room Rally (the first being in 2002 in Alabama) started with the usual "welcome" committee greet you to your site and make sure you get settled in as to get you "sitting and talking" faster. The group gathered at various places and drifted from area to area throughout the afternoon. We gathered for lobster at 5 PM and all was grand.
Rigs seemed to arrive hourly and some later in the week as time for travel permitted. To those who had to depart before the group shot....I am sorry....but keeping chatting RV'er together for a week is worse than herding cats.

Arnold and his wife Dianne did a grand job of planning a relaxing but varied rally schedule. Everything from quiet time, ice cream, lobster, Big Al's Odd Lot Store, Harbor tours and much more made for a great rally with lots to do and much time for just sitting and telling stories....some of which were true. From Shari and Jake, thanks to each of you who were able to attend for helping make our trip a memory of a lifetime. To those who could not attend we just have to say that we are very sorry that you missed this opportunity to visit with such a great group of friends and to try to make the 2005 event on Sept 11, 2005.

September 18, 2004-Tomorrow, Boothbay Maine
Sunday we leave "Witch City" for Boothbay Maine. Salem has much to offer those who are interested in the events surrounding the hanging of 19 people and 2 dogs for being "witches" 300 years ago and how the remaining 150 local citizens were set free once justice was served.
The weather was great for our days of touring but today was wet and colder. We are at 54F tonight and it feels great. Tomorrow we take our three hour drive to Boothbay to join the chatters for our rally. I will try to connect as often as we can from the rally for those who are camping in other places or are not attending the rally.
Atlantic City/Cape May area was great and we got some good pictures of area lighthouses and other features in the area. The casino was good to us at Atlantic City.

August 30, 2004-Our Trip to Maine Begins
We left loaded for our trip to Maine for the RVA Chat Room Rally. We stopped at the Petro truck stop between Beaumont and Winnie off I-10 and weighed the coach due to the added weight we were carrying for such an extended trip. We were surprised that we still had about 1800 lbs before we were at max weight. We have not done the four wheels thing but front to back we are confident that we are well under weight and at the proper tire inflation according to Newmar and Goodyear specifications.

First stop was Byram Mississippi at the Swinging Bridge RV Park, a nice quiet park just South of Jackson. Our relatives who live there were not available due to work and travel but we had a nice stay in the area for a couple of nights. Next, we decided to change our trip from Stone Mountain GA to a more Northward course to Nashville due to the storm in Florida and along the East coast. Nashville was fun and we went to the Grand Ole Opry late radio program show which was a blast. We did some touring and had a nice stay at the Nashville KOA. Next stop was Fort Chiswell VA in the SE side of Virginia. This is a nice park, with great views of the mountains and hills and the people are very friendly. At this point the storm caught up with us and we were getting a good bit of rain in the area and the threat of tornados. We left as scheduled for College Park MD even though rain and possible tornados were forecast for the day. We went up I-81 and I-66 and experienced two major accidents along the way on the Southbound side of the interstate. One was a jack knifed 18 wheeler and one was another 18 wheeler that was overturned by a gust of wind or small tornado. We were not delayed due to the events since they were on the other side of the highway. That day the rain was constant and hard. It slowed our progress to about 60 mph or less at times. We chatted with the truckers for miles....for once we were all traveling the same speeds due to the traffic and weather. One RV driver got a verbal warning from one of the nice truckers since he was in the "hammer lane" doing about 45...not a good thing in this neck of the woods..and NO it was not me. We drove 306 miles most in the rain with a few stops along the way to let my hands rest from grasping the steering wheel. The Newmar did well and the Workhorse chassis kept up with the big boys and even had to brake uphill to keep a safe distance from the truck ahead of me....I was pleased.

Cherry Hill Park is a great campground with lots to do. It is a bit crowded and full most of the time....we will return here if and when we come back to this area. Friday, Saturday and Sunday we will the tour the Nation's Capital area and other surrounding area sights and plan to depart for Atlantic City NJ on Monday.
(More to follow)

August 13, 2004 - San Antonio, Texas
Shari's brother, Johnny from WA state, was attending a conference in San Antonio so we headed West to see was the first time we had seen him in about 6 years. Her sister and her family were at an motel on the East end...we parked at Blazing Star Resort along with Skip and Terbie in their new Granite Ridge.
Friday, we had a short but nice visit with Johnny and Shari's sister but they turned in early and returned back to their hotels. Terbie and Skip visited as we normally do for several hours. Saturday, we had coffee with Skip & Terbie and enjoyed the afternoon in the pool and hot tub. The evening was a bit up setting since we had prepared Black Angus Rib Eyes for the visitors along with some cajun "dirty rice" made by Terbie along with several links of fresh "East Texas style Cajun Boudin". We had plenty to eat since Johnny and Shari's sister's family never made it back to the resort for dinner.
Lots of talking, late into the night brought Sunday when we said goodbye to Skip & Terbie until next time. Shari and I left San Antonio on Monday for our journey home via Camping World.

July 23, 2004 - Arkansas, Chicago and Oshkosh Trip
There was a meeting I needed to make in Chicago so we headed North via Arkadelphia Arkansas where we met the "Retread's" and some friends of theirs from Florida. We had a short but pleasant visit then departed for Sikeston, MO. We will give you some not eat the day you drive to Sikeston. The fine folks at the Hinton RV park have arranged for a shuttle to Lambert's Cafe where you can experience "Throwed Rolls" first hand. Seems the tradition is to receive the hot steaming rolls via air across the cafe when a new batch comes out of the oven. Don't eat too many since they also "pass around" potatoes, fried okra, black eye peas, tomato pasta salad and sorghum for your rolls. Then the main course arrives which is fit to feed a family of four at least. It is a great time and good food.
Next we found Tenley Park Campground, a very nice park on the South of Chicago. We took the train into town each day for the meeting and toured downtown and Navy Pier on "family day" Thursday afternoon. Family Day at Navy Pier is a day where the city hires musicians, artist, magicians and entertainment of varied talent to entertain families and kids of all was fun just to sit and watch the children. On Friday we left for Oshkosh (Actually we stayed in Fond du lac, KOA). The EAA AirVenture show was fantastic. Words cannot express the sheer vastness of the showing. 12,000 aircraft and their owners, booths, seminars and yes, daily air show lasting some 3 hours. What a trip. We met our friends and business associates Lana and Paul along with Dr. P and his family. This was a trip to remember. We already have planned to return in 2005 for the show and not to be in a hurry to get home. Sunday was a work day....I did have a purpose there and we enjoyed the day.
Next was the quick trip home stopping to sleep and to make a withdrawal at the Isle of Capri in Vicksburg....on my favorite slot machine. The next day we traveled home but as we entered Louisiana we heard a noise in the rear of the coach that did not sound normal. It was about fifteen miles before we found a place to get off the highway and pulled into a Wal-Mart which was part of a large strip mall. As I crawled under the rear of the coach to see what was wrong we found that three of the nuts holding on the hitch had fallen off and the fourth hanging by three threads or less. After Shari revived me, I went to the hardware store on the lot and got new hardware to get us home. With some work and new bolts, washers and nuts, the hitch is like new. TIP: Check your hitch bolts not overlook this important item since most hitches cannot be welded due to the tempered steel from which they are made.
We arrived home late in the afternoon and were glad to be here.

July 13, 2004 - Mississippi for a Working/Playing Trip to Brandon and Vicksburg
Jake had a little business to do in the area so we decided to stay at the Isle of Capri RV Park in Vicksburg. The trip going was pleasant but warm. When we got to Mississippi we called the relatives there, Jim and Robert and planned our free time. Jim is working that week so we spent our free night with Robert who took us to a very nice local place for a great dinner and to catch up on the latest family events. We had set our casino spending limit and after three days managed to spend all but a little of it....we could have walked away with twice our budget but, I can't leave without trying for that final big win...which never comes. The trip home was not without incident. Just as we crossed from Louisiana to Texas on Hwy 79 we noticed a van weaving from the shoulder to past the center stripe. After a bit we called 911 and notified the authorities that the driver may be impaired in some manner. We did not want to pass him since every curve and passing car seemed to trigger a loss of control.....he was having a hard time keeping it "between the navigational beacons" so to speak. After about ten minutes it happened, a long curve at 70+ MPH in the highway and off the shoulder he lept into a 15-20' drop to a ditch below, crushing the roof of the van and smashing all windows. He came to rest facing the highway and upright but was unable to exit the van. When the fire department arrived they were forced to cut him out using the "Jaws of Life", placed him in the ambulance and off they went. We gave our report to the officer on the scene and were released to continue our journey. Our advice is if you see such a driver do not hesitate to dial 911....whatever his problem may have been it was clearly unsafe for himself and those around him. Opportunity to crash into another vehicle came often and I guess the good news is that he did not hit an oncoming car during one of the many times he crossed the center stripe. The rest of the trip was calm and we are preparing for our trip to Illinois and Wisconsin in a few days.

June 4, 2004 - Trip to Alabama-Coushatta Pow-Wow, San Antonio and Ingram/Kerrville

After a good bit of progress on the house construction project, we headed out for the 36th Annual Pow-Wow. Friday proved a bit damp so we turned in early from the arena and started fresh the next afternoon. Events are on "indian" time and usually start in the late afternoon and end before daylight. While Shari has been to Pow-Wow before it was my first experience and has given me a new respect for our Native American neighbors. They are a proud, reverent and genuine people. They are proud to be indian and proud to be Americans. The Pow-Wow is a private experience that the residents and elders allow non-indians to attend. First rule, "don't enter the ceremonial ring without being invited by a tribal chief". Take photos, enjoy the fantastic outfits (they are NOT costumes). The reservation's RV park is great and the rustic surrounding will make you want to stay or at least come back soon. We stayed at the RV park until Tuesday where we drove all day in the rain with Blazing Star RV Resort, San Antonio being our target. I had a Texas Association of School Board's training meeting to attend and Shari rested, got a great massage from "For the Health of It", in the RV Resort and met a great lady, Cheryl, who is one of Shari's new best friends....The conference ended Saturday at noon so we dashed over to see Skip and Terbie and to meet up with Danel-KSC (Dan & Elaine) who were in the area. After a couple of relaxing days catching up on the local news in Ingram we headed home but stopped in Beorne to have a short chat with JB-Texas, (John & Doretta, who were there for the rally. Our visit was short but if all four of you talk at can cover a lot of ground...LOL. The trip home was normal but we stopped off at Al-T's Cajun Restaurant on the way home for a nice dinner then home again.

April 30- 2004 - Trip to Ingram and Kerrville Texas
As you may see in the photos we picked up a great number of love bugs on the road between High Island and San Antonio....I guess a zillion or two. We arrived and were greeted by Skip and Bobby who gathered at the Guadeloupe River RV Resort campground, a very nice park right on the river. The sites are large, shaded and long. There are pools, games and facilities for the largest of rally's or events. We quickly left the park and went to Patricks, a local restaurant and bar for a nice quiet meal. Next we stopped at the Ingram Social Club, a local spot where "real" Texan's meet for fun. We laughed, talked, drank and joked the night away. We met early the next day and were invited for a Bar-B-Q at Jerry's house, our newest friend. Bobby's sister Terry, was with us and we had some real homemade sausages, crab dip and plenty to wash it down with. The main course was split chicken on the grill seasoned to perfection by our host and served fireside in the solid stone hewn fireplace and patio which was second to none.

The next night we had a quiet dinner at Skip and Terbie's and just spent some quality time. Monday was a busy day for all of us so we met at dinner, played some video slot games at the local spot and met again at the Social Club for a final goodbye since we were leaving on Tuesday.

Ingram is a garden spot and a great place to retire to .....I recommend three or four days there just to feel the atmosphere and the friendly people who call Ingram home.
We left Tuesday about noon and headed back to the beach. See the photos in the album section and visit the Guadeloupe River RV Resort by clicking here.
April 17, 2004 - Escape trip to Haven's Landing and Beyond\I guess we got the "itch". We headed Northwest towards Montgomery, TX to Haven's Landing RV Resort to enjoy the hot tub and wonderful views at this park. Sunday we visited with our son about 30 miles away and toured the Sam Houston Statue in Huntsville. We had a nice visit then headed South to visit Arby & Lora who are spending some time about 110 miles South of where we were. They cooked up some shrimp and we had a nice visit. Shari and I got back to Haven's we were both pooped and just watched a movie and went to bed. Monday, we moved to Bayou Shores RV Park in Galveston which is located near 61st and Heards Ln. on the shores of Offats Bayou. The park is a simple park with laundry, small game room but a wonderful view of Offats. The paddle wheeler from Moody Gardens (about three miles West, turns right in front of the RV park...a very nice sight in the evenings. We like sites C-10 - C 14...since they face the water. Fishing is good there and there is always a cool breeze from the Gulf which is just across the street from Wal-Mart....We returned home on Wednesday evening after having our generator muffler replaced....the factory weld failed and it was replaced at Channelview RV. We had wanted to go to Ingram but plans changed and we do have lots of work to do around the house.

April 4, 2004 - We have become the King and Queen of Short Trips
Having discovered, during my weekly generator exercising procedure, that the unit would no longer make adequate power, I called Ron Hoover RV who directed me to my local authorized Generac repair facility, Channelview RV Supply. We made an appointment for 8:30 Monday, April 5 and made a reservation at a nearby CG, Houston Leisure RV Resort in Highlands. This turned out to be a very clean, paved, park with nice pool, playgrounds for the kids, and many other features that will make us file this park under "nice places to stay". We would not have overnighted except for the fact that we both had an ugly cold and did not feel like driving an hour and a half to get to Channelview by 8:30 AM. As it turned out Channelview Supply has a large showroom for rv accessories and parts, friendly staff and very good service. The repair team on my unit found gunk in the carburetor from "lack of use" which I suspected upon delivery of the coach since it ran poorly the day we got it and had 36 hours on the hour meter....I am sure it had not been serviced but the dealer assured me it was fine. At any rate this little job cost me $70 and we were out of there in just over one hour. The point is that as we have attempted to do you MUST start the generator weekly and run it with over half power applied (called a load) for about 30 minutes without fail. Some say once a month, I don't agree for gas units. Our problem is the longer we went the longer it took to normalize the engine and the less load it could take without dying. The final week it would die upon turning on one AC unit....not a good thing.

April 1, 2003 Short trip to evacuate the power outage at the beach
We took a short trip (20 miles) to Winnie Inn RV Park to escape the overnight power outage. We would have just used the generator but it has to go in for is not working at the moment. The trip was short but fun and we had air conditioning to spare and a hot shower, coffee and lights. Besides we have been home for two weeks and getting the itch to go anyplace.

February 27, 2004 Trip to Baton Rouge to meet some new friends
We had an opportunity to meet FC from Ontario and his wife who were attending a meeting of their RV group FCRV while they were in Baton Rouge. We were joined on Sunday by LazyJ (Jerrie and Louis) from Louisiana and had a great visit. FC stayed over for a couple of days which gave us an opportunity to cook a great meal and to eat out along with a bit of touring around Baton Rouge. The weather was pretty snow and usually in the mid to upper 60's and some sun. On Tuesday Shari and I went on to Gulfport and toured the Jefferson Davis Presidential Library and home. On Friday the 5th we went to Vicksburg and met some relatives who helped us donate more money to the Isle of Capri Inc., eat too much and visit a bit. We also toured Memorial Park. Photos of these events are in the photo album list on our main page.
February 23, 2004 Trip to Florida via Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama
Our goal for this trip was to attend the 4th annual picnic, hosted by Dick & Judy (Reno) from New York. The occasion was to celebrate Pen's birthday party and to visit those who were wintering in Florida. The trip was a great success. We started with a stopover at LazyJ's home in Crowley Louisiana where we scored a great gumbo lunch and met Louis and Jerrie (LazyJ). We only spent a short time but promised to catch up soon but our goal was to make New Orleans before dark.
Our next stop (not counting the drive thru the jogging trail when I took a wrong turn going thru Baton Rouge) was New Orleans where we spent two nights so we could watch it rain on the French Quarter. Next was an overnight in Tallahassee which was cold but dry. Next on to Kissimmee, Fla where we met up with Dick & Judy (Reno), Jack & Kay (Pen, the birthday boy), Annette and Henry, Bea and Carl and were surprised with a visit from Jim & Marisol (Venice) and Jim was also having a birthday on the 29th and their coach was just two down from ours at Sherwood Forest RV Resort. The picnic was great, the hot dogs were fantastic and the conversation was warm and abundant. We seemed to be eating a lot during this trip but it was fun. Shari and I visited Downtown Disney, the Arabian Nights show, an orchid garden and numerous shops and local spots.
Next was our stop in Panama City Beach, Emerald Coast RV Resort ...a great place to stay. The beach was vacant, but awesome to view. We must have walked ten miles picking up shells and meeting other's seeking for the perfect sea token for their collections. We had a great meal at Skampies and moved onward back to New Orleans.
It was there that I took a hard fall while fighting with my tow bar ....injuring my once broken left ankle which soon was swollen to more than twice it's normal size and carried a bruise around the heel area for days. The tow bar lost the battle from my lack of self control when I put it into a binding turn .....making it impossible to release. I am searching for a new one before we head out again.
The last stop was to Galveston where we met some friends from the North who were on business in the area and stopped over for a tour of the coach and to share a fine dinner with us at Casey's on the seawall.
We arrived home on Thursday night Feb. 12'th, parked the coach and became familiar once again with our home in High Island.

January 17, 2004 Trip to Grand Casino Coushatta, Kinder, LA
We decided to take a short pause in our sheet rock project and to spend a few days playing slots and getting away for a time. Please note that there is plenty money in the slot machines at Coushatta....feel free to try your luck....Again, the trip was fun and we enjoyed the Kountry Star.

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Shakedown Oct3, 2003

Shakedown Oct3, 2003
2003 Newmar Kountry Star

Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls
NF KOA with friends

Jake at the South Pole 2001

Jake at the South Pole 2001