Wednesday, December 24, 2008

2008 Blogs (Hurricane IKE)

Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Christmas Eve.....I would imagine that Joseph, Mary and a few other travelers are frantic about now trying to find a place to stay this cold winter night. To complicate matters Mary is in labor and about to give berth wo the Savior of the World. And I thioght I had problems. The story turns out well, Joseph find space in a stable out of the snow and the wind and made a place of comfort for Mary and the soon to come baby boy.
On the "home front" things were a bit smoother and much more comfortable. This morning our son Bryan and his "significant other" Melissa arrived bearing gifts and a great homemade Oreo pie of their own recipe. Melissa was preparing for her office Christmas party tonight and only had a few hours to spend in High Island. We exchanged gifts and had some BBQ'd brisket and trimmings, some sweets and a few cups of Christmas Coffee. They shoved off after lunch to complete party plans and tomorrow they will spend with Melissa's mother.
We traveled to my sister Jo and her husband Raymond's ranch for the evening and shared a family tradition of Christmas Eve gathering. The guest list included Raymond and Jo, their son Steve and Cherise and their two children Summer and Hunter. Jo and Ray's other son Ron and his significant other Gennifer along with her daughter Kassey were there (they live on part of the ranch). Also was my other sister Alice and her husband George and one of their daughters Pamela, her husband Dale and daughter Katie (Katie and me have the same birthday...) Pam's twin sister Angela and her husband Scott and daughter Emily could not make the drive tonight as Scott was out selling new Toyotas. Rounding out the guests were me, Jake, Shari, our daughter Sara and daughter Lucy with her husband Miguel and son Lance. It was a fine affair as usual.
Everyone had their fill of goodies, exchanged gifts and drove around a bit to view christmas lights in the area. We were home by 9 and prepared for Christmas Day.

Sunday, December 21, 2008
I thought I might update the two people who read this page from time to time. The doc called and told me that my RA test for Arthritis came back negative to get my buns on the treadmill and stay away from food for the rest of my life. I can do some of that.
Something strange happened to me this season, I have a large dose of Christmas Spirit. The shopping is done and we are just awaiting the family to gather once again. We realize as we did when we were young that all of us may not be together on the same day of the season but as long as we love one another miles cannot dampen our feelings. We have always tried to teach our children that "nothing you can ever do will make me stop loving you". I think they got it. We had a hard time with the concept of having a life of our own as our parents were more traditional and it was NOT the same distance from my house to theirs period! We loved them anyway.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
The weather sure has been strange here on the Gulf Coast. There were some items of interest this week, one of which is the "lemon" size lump on my elbow that kind of just popped up Sunday at dinner. I did not even know it was there but those at the dinner table had no problem pointing it out to me. I made an appointment to see my doctor for today and he assured me that it was just one of those things that happen to the aged. He took blood and is running a test for Rheumatoid Arthritis (RT) and told me to stop eating! He also suggested we try drinking Mangosteen Juice and Black Cherry Juice daily. He is a bit of an fan of "alternative medicine". If we listen to him we should die of old age while visiting friends in a remote RV park. At least that is our prayer.
Also, I had a few hints of traffic in my chat room lately and some people who could not get into it without a virus alert message. I did some research and really am sorry I ever opened the room. It was a "free" version of ParaChat which did a great job for me for years. The issue was some "perverts" who seem to have taken over the room since it was little used anyway. I recorded the chat history and did capture some very serious conversations that I forwarded to the authorities. I felt abused, used and beaten. It almost prompted me to simply scrap my entire web site and find another hobby. Shari talked me out of that as the web site is my passion. I just don't know if I want to risk another chat room unless I open it every day and night to monitor the activity...I just don't know yet.
Tonight the town's annual "Happy Birthday Jesus" party takes place and lots of caroling, cheer and fun will spread throughout our little town once again. I will try to capture some pics for the site.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008
It has been kind of hectic here for the past couple of weeks. We had a great Thanksgiving with all the kids here along with most of their "significant others" and of course we ate just enough to feed a small country. We did the traditional turkey, ham, dressings, veggies and a variety of pies and cake.
I have not done much on the house but get some insulation and other supplies to start replacing the floor insulation before "Old Man Winter" gets here in full force. I won't make it in time.
Shopping for Christmas is taking a toll on our spare time and the weather is getting windy, cold and wet. Yesterday, I managed to get the laptop back in service which hosts my web cam and weather station software. The web cam is up and running, aimed at the RV and yard and UPS will deliver my weather station today and it may be working tonight if all goes well.
We made reservations for Port Aransas for Jan. 15-19 and plan to stop in Victoria for a day or two either before or after that. We will meet Ken and Char for some fishing but we are not too sold on January fishing on the Gulf Coast but we will have a nice visit anyway. We also made our Kerrville reservations at Buckhorn RV Resort for March 12-20'th or so. There we will meet some of our chatroom friends from which will be a long overdue event for us.
On the IKE front, Highway 87 between High Island and what is left of Gilchrist is being attacked by the Gulf of Mexico, during times of strong South winds as we have had ahead of the cold fronts that pass thru weekly this time of year. The road will be upgraded at some time but the work may not get done before the road is washed over. This will slow progress on the Bolivar
Peninsula for sure if the highway has to close for relocation inland.

Wednesday November 26, 2008
It is Wednesday evening,10 PM CT and our children have started gathering. Lucy and her family are living with us in High Island since their house was washed away for the most part, leaving them with what the evacuated with from Hurricane Ike, Sara arrived today and is still the same creative and busy girl that she was the last holiday she spent with us and Bryan and Melissa arrive tomorrow for their visit and tour of the beach. We are having a couple of our friends for lunch because it just would not be Thanksgiving if we could not share it with those we love.
I was at the ranch most of theday...we "worked" cattle. Giving them their meds, fly repellent and sorted them into four pastures. One for the major herd, one for the first year heifers, one for the bulls and one going to the sale next week. Two were set aside for a local sale to a friend. The cattle were a bit "nervous" today...I think the whole Thanksgiving thing has them upset...LOL. We got thru it with some glitches, scrapes and falls but nothing major.
Tonight, we watched a family movie and did the last minute preps for tomorrow's feast. All in all it was a hard but rewarding day and has me in the mood for some resting and relaxing tomorrow before the Christmas season begins. NOTE: Christmas season does not begin until after Thanksgiving. I have a quiet ceremony that we have enjoyed for a few years now and that is to have a glass of eggnog with a splash of Jack Daniels before bedtime on Thanksgiving Day, marking the start of the Christmas Season.
To each who read these ramblings have a Happy Thanksgiving and stay safe.

Saturday November 22, 2008
We may be in for a Winter this year. November 22 and 38 F outside.....a bit nippy for the Gulf Coast I think. Another cup of coffee, tighten up the belt on my robe and all will be well.
The diagnosis of a bad fuel pump was on target. The generator in the MH roared to live yesterday but my life is NOT that simple. I routinely switch off the circuit breaker feeding the MH when working with the generator as I did yesterday. The fix took about 15 minutes between petting "Nacho" our grandson's ChiWinnie dog and checking batteries etc in the unit. I called Shari on the cell to let her hear the generator inside the house and she informed me the power had gone off. Visions of me taking down the power grid ran thru my head but then remembered I did switch off the circuit breaker and we have a transfer switch on the MH so knew it was not me. Things just happen to me like that, it is Gods way of letting me know that I may be "handy" but I am NOT in charge.
When the power came back I had no power on one leg of the outlet box. I discovered this later in the day as I was locking up the MH. It was the side main side of the unit that was without power. I cranked the gennie again and full power came back. This prompted me to run my 30' extension cord for 50 amps to the back of the house and plug the unit into a single 20 amp utility outlet and let the batteries charge again overnight. I called my electrical company who I expect will fix the issue today.
The University of Texas Medical Branch "John Sealy Hospital" will come alive again on Monday at about 1/4 strength. I wish them well.

Monday November 17, 2008
Kind of quiet here this week. My brother-in-law, nephew and me worked on the equipment barn at the ranch mostly. Shari went with me to look at windows and fencing to repair some more of our damaged home but we ended up bringing nothing home. Since we decided to stay here in High Island for a while rather than turning our tails and running away, we thought we may turn the damaged room which is without carpet, window and furniture at the moment, into a "indoor spa room" with a hot tub and patio seating. We would replace the window with a French Door leading to the patio which would be screened in for evening and day use so we are on hold on restoring that room for a few weeks.
I ordered a new fuel pump for my Generac generator in the MH. It died during our last trip and the part is cheaper than the deductible on my CSP policy and it is easy to install. It should arrive Thursday or Friday. We will see.
Our favorite eating spot "Al-T's Cajun Restaurant in Winnie, TX re-opened this week from their bout with hurricane Ike.. Much is changed inside but the great service, fine foods and pleasant neighborhood atmosphere is still the same. Even with a wait for a table there is a neighborhood feeling as lost of customers know each other and many from High Island eat there often.
Other than that, we rested, nested and enjoyed our week.
Wednesday November 12, 2008
We finally got some rain yesterday and this morning which will help the plants and grass to recover. Also, our new roof did the "roof thing" and kept the water out so I guess all is well.
We have decided not to sell the house, as we love it too much and really enjoy the area. Hurricanes are only forces of nature and we do appreciate nature in most of it's forms. Restoration will continue however if someone comes by who wants it more than us.....we will talk.
All else is well. We may drive up the beach today to see if there has been any progress since our last trip to Port Bolivar.

Friday November 7, 2008
Most of today was spent rolling my driveway magnet across the "Last-Re-Sort" to make sure that most of the nails are gone from the roofing job, cedar fence destruction and various other sources. I think I am about 94% clean now...except for the one nail that will find my tire in the next few days. The good news is that we have a NEW ROOF that will most likely outlast it's owner. Yee Haw! Now we need some exterior cleaning of the siding and paint. I am waiting for the windows to arrive but no real hurry since they are closed off with plastic and wood.
The High Island ISD "Homecoming Parade" was today and passed the house as usual with an array of trucks, cars, fire engines and ambulances along with some local officials and fans....lots of candy was flying as they passed our house. What a treat.
Wednesday November 5, 2008
Today our roof went on and they almost got it all installed before the rain came.

Tuesday November 4, 2008
We voted was the first time that the parking lot was full and had to wait in line...I was the second voter, Shari was after me...LOL.
Then we got a surprise....our roofer is going to be early...they will be here a day early which is good news with rain on the way later in the week. I will be so relieved when we have shingles rather than the "Blue Roof". Also our Christmas Coffee arrived today and we will have our first cup in a few minutes with cookies. Life is good!
Sunday November 2, 2008
Today we hired a roofer. Ram-T Construction will be here on Thursday to do our roof and eve work. They are highly recommended in the community and personal friends of the family. I expect good results.
Today we made POPCORN BALLS (click to visit the page) as our first official act of the "Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year" season which will be documented as it progresses toward 2009.
We also ordered our "Christmas Coffee" from Distant Lands Coffee Roasters .It is a blend of three coffees that we mix to yield a coffee that tastes like "Christmas in a Cup" as Shari calls it. The mix is two parts Frangelica, one part Vanilla Nut Cream and one part Cafe Cinnamon. We get the decaf, ground beans because we drink so much of it the real stuff sends us into outer space when we have too much. We get enough to make it every day from early November thru New Years Day.

Thursday October 29, 2008
We went to the beach today to take a few shots of the Rollover Pass bridge repair for our friend who owns for his web news service and found some peace as we walked the shoreline between High Island and Gilchrist. There were sea birds, washed up cars and trucks, silverware in the sand and some nice shells to collect. (See photo section link above)

Friday October 24, 2008
All is good on this day. We have one quote for our roof job with a couple of more due any day now. I will begin exterior work and will have the window repaired in a week or two. Then we tackle the fence and yard...what a mess. The screens seem to have slits and holes in most of them, I will re-screen or patch them as the mood strikes me. The mood is changing as mosquitoes are flocking in on these cool days when we keep the windows open and breeze flow thru the house.
The beach is another story. They are now starting to survey the properties and determine which phase each house and/or slab is to be placed. There are three classes of damage that have been identified.
For category 1, no major damage- no permit is required and Entergy will be authorized to connect permanent power. (This is us) Power has been restored, we have water and all is good here)
For category 2, non substantially damaged- a permit will be required after which the county will authorize Entergy to connect permanent power. A follow up inspection will be done after work is complete.
For category 3, substantially damaged- a permit will be required after which the county will authorize Entergy to connect power to a temporary pole. After construction is complete and inspected and an elevation certificate is provided the county will authorize Entergy to connect permanent power.
Galveston County Engineering Department counted houses and determined that out of the 5400 homes on the Bolivar Peninsula only 2000 remain standing in some form.
We are still under a "boil water" order and a "burn ban" in the area. The power was turned off yesterday for a few hours to make the switch over to allow Entergy Texas to extend power down the beach. Hooray for Entergy TX for doing a great job. Water lines are in place and being tested. Before they can charge the lines they must first make sure ALL meters are connected and turned off. It would be a shame to turn back on the water and flood a house that survived Hurricane IKE. Tomorrow the process of making permit decisions on the beach. Since we have had power for a while we are not concerned about permitting as our damage was minimal by comparison.

Monday October 13, 2008
One month after the storm...seems like only yesterday. The big news today is that our "Blue Roof" was installed. Just in time for the weeks rain from a cool front moving thru Texas. Thanks to The Army Corps of Engineers "Operation Blue Roof" and FEMA for providing this great service. I just can't manage roof work any longer...

Friday October 10, 2008
They measured for our "Blue Roof" today....they are due back in a few days to install the tarps on my entire roof and bay window....yee haw. That is my major fear that the tar paper will leak and damage my sheet rock and insulation which has not happened yet. Thanks to the Corps of Engineers for the great effort in providing this service.
The storm has taken a larger toll. Due to the rapid change to the demographics in our area on the Gulf Coast of Texas along with the 87 buildings damaged by IKE's storm surge and winds, the University of Texas Medical Branch from where I retired in 2003 is also changing. The thriving complex of hospitals, research centers and schools has closed for the most part. The staff of over 12,000 remain on the payroll for a bit longer while they determine how much of the complex they can and should return to operation. It was announced last night that 4000 would be terminated. (Click here to read news story)
The lack of clinical patients, migration of the "regular" patients including ourselves and the sheer size of the physical recovery has killed this fine institution as we know it. The plan at this moment is to return the medical and nursing schools to some level of operations first, then the massive research effort and then to carve out a clinical presence which is to be less than 1/2 the former size for the next few years.
Like I am not depressed enough with the loss of our community.....
To those I worked with for years, those I know and the whole UTMB community please know Shari and I will keep each of you in our prayers.
Personally, we are making slow progress toward returning to normal. We find out if our water is still on a "boil water" order sometime today. Not much of a problem since Budwieser comes from a "clean water plant"..LOL
To end on a brighter note: I guess life is good here, my street light got replaced by the power company yesterday and the bright white light floods five yards around my house. We are going to walk on the beach tomorrow to try to recall why we came here in the first place.....It is just not the same.

Sunday Oct 5, 2008
We have to boil water before drinking, power is on and house is as near normal as it has been in three weeks...but what a mess!!! Our little community may never be the same.

Saturday Oct. 4, 2008
The power was restored to High Island last night. Our electric company, Entergy Texas is to be commended for their quality work during this storm recovery. We were witness to the construction of 19 miles of power feeder lines along Hwy 124 into High Island in less than a week. The company doing the work was up to the task. They had the manpower, equipment and a plan of attack. In just a few days the right of way was cleared, poles erected, lines pulled and power turned on. My street light even works even if it is hanging from a thread.
We will continue our work on the house and plan to be back in High Island in a few days.

Sunday September 28, 2008
Mosquitoes are gone for the most part thanks to a State Wide effort to spray and it worked. Lots of work being done on the power line into High Island....I expect rapid return to service. The Electric company still posts Nov. 21 for a turn on date but looking at the work being done we expect power by Oct 4th at least.

We did some work on the property this weekend and things are looking better. Once the power is back and the roof is covered in plastic, we will move back to town and begin our repairs. Until then we are at the ranch mooching off my sister and her husband....

Monday September 22, 2008
There is power at the more generator noise but plenty of mosquitoes....Estimated date for power to return to High Island is November 21.
Here are a few pics that I had time to post today:

Monday September 22, 2008
There is power at the more generator noise but plenty of mosquitoes....Estimated date for power to return to High Island is November 21.

Sunday September 21, 2008
We returned today to put the Corps of Engineers paperwork on the door to allow them to put a "blue roof" on my house. Still no power at the ranch but we are doing well here.
I will update as soon as power returns and I can fire up the desktop with some pics of the area.

Sunday September 14 2008
We evacuated High Island Wednesday, Sept 10, as ordered by the Galveston County Office of Emergency Management. Our plans were to go to the ranch in Beaumont and decide if we should go farther once we knew more about where the storm would come ashore. We decided to put the MH in the barn and stay with my sister and her husband at the ranch house. We worked for two days to prepare the property and animals for the event, securing the cows in areas where they could get out of the wind a bit and have plenty of access to clean water to drink. We secured the gates and gaps and prepared the house and yard for high winds.
The storm was pretty typical, winds in the 60 mph range for several hours gusting to about 85 MPH and lots of rain. Our efforts paid off until early Saturday morning when the wind picked up a bit and changed directions taking the roof and three walls off the "equipment barn". This is the place that houses most of the hay equipment, tractors and a workshop. It is a total loss. Other than a few leaks, many limbs around the roads and some gate failures all is good here.
Our house in High Island will not be accessible to us for a few days or longer but a neighbor who did not leave told us that we had one broken downstair window, shingles gone and a couple of siding boards missing. We will try to get into secure the house as soon as the County Sheriff feels it safe to do so. Power may be off for weeks.
We are fine, all is well here and we are making it on generators, boiled water and dumping in the septic system at the ranch when necessary.
Thanks to all of you for your emails, text messages and phone calls.

Thursday September 12, 2008
I decided to add this update because it may be important to those who may read this. After watching local TV and looking at the information from Jeff Masters at WeatherUnderground we decided to pack up our stuff and leave the immediate coast. We normally pick out an RV park 200 miles or so inland away from the projected path of the storm. IKE did not afford us this option as it was large and unsure of what it wanted to do. We decided to take up the offer from my sister Jo and her husband Raymond and come to the ranch where I am spending my days anyway as a ranch hand anyway. We set up the MH with intentions of going North if necessary and decided to move the MH into the barn on Friday. It is a well built barn loaded with round bales of hay. We prepared the ranch for the storm as well as it can be, making sure the animals had access to fresh water and natural shelter areas as well as an escape route in case of flooding. Then we evacuated to the ranch house and waited.
Jake and Shari Angelo

August 30, 2008
Tropical Storm Gustov turned to a major storm so we took our leave of High Island. It was forecast to make landfall from Mobile AL, to Corpus Christi, TX and we are kind of the middle of the zone.
Arby & Blondie left lower Houston to get to some concrete so we both checked into Havens Landing KOA.....which we will discuss later, and spent a few days watching the weather and glad we were not in Lousiana.
We returned home on Tuesday, no damage, no rain and not much else at home so all was well.

July 3, 2008
I turned 61 today and we moved the MH to the ranch for the big weekend holiday. My loving sister, who does know how to relax, fed 88 family members for her "mini reunion" on the 4th of July. Glad she kept the guest list to a minimum. The good thing was that for the first time in many years the "Angelo" side of the family gathered for some food, fun and catching up on life lessons.

On Saturday we migrated to Delta Downs Racetrack and Casino in Vinton, LA where we made a nice donation to the track....well most of us did anyway. The rig ran great this weekend and I think I may shoot for a longer trip soon.

June 2008 ( A Summary)
I ran yet another tank of gas in the MH and pumped it up with a good dose of Techron additive against my better judgement. The rig runs better now but still had a tendency to cough some when excellerating especially uphill. It does get better with every tank of gasoline I run thru it.

May 1, 2008 Tyler Mini-Rally
This is going to be a special it turned out it was a "very special" event. "Okie & Gabby" Bob & Rita, organized a rally in Tyler TX to allow those of us who live in a reasonable distance to attend. One of the highlights was Leo and his daughter Linda who live near Ft. Worth along with some other old and new friends from this region. The attendees were, Bob & Rita, Skip and Bobbie, JB & Doretta, Leo and Linda, Wendy and Jeanelle, Billy and Billie, Bob & Sally, Leon and Carolyn, Terry and Lillian, James and Diane, Bill and Victoria and a surprise visit from Chris and Brenny from PA who were in the area working on their property so that they may return to Texas after retirement next year and of course, Jake and Shari.

The weather was good except for a few hours of thunderstorms on Friday morning then clear, cool and dry for the rest of the rally. We had a good meal at a local place and a "pot luck" dinner at Whispering Pines Campground along with lots of "analog chatting", games and fun.

Our motorhome did not perform well due to what I believe is a glitch in my maintenance schedule. We filled up the unit with gas before the 2007 hurricane season as to not be trapped without an escape "pod" incase of a storm. Well, the storm did come, Hurricane Humberto, but we did not leave the beach as it was to be a mild storm. As it turned out it was not mild and we should have left. After the storm we did not feel much like RV'ing and only took two or three short trips during Sept-April using less than half tank of gasoline. What this all means is that when we pulled out on Thurdsay morning....we were using gasoline that was pumped in August of 2007, almost 9 months old. This trip, we found out about "Sta-Bil".....for gasoline. The rig spit, sputtered, popped and finally threw a "donut" causing loud exhaust from the rig. We diverted our second leg of the trip from Murfreesboro Arkansas, Crater of Diamonds State Park to the KOA in Mt. Pleasant, some 55 miles from the rally. On Monday I installed a new donut and fuel filter and a few bottles of Techron as advised....the rig ran much better but still needs some tweaking, which I will do this week.
All in all, the trip was fine and we had a great visit with our old and new friends.

March 15, 2008 At Home and Busy
This month has been a quiet one for the motorhome. We did some maintenance and still have some stuff to attend to before we head out again. We took a couple of day trips in the toad and stayed a few nights at the Isle of Capri, Lake Charles in their Jacuzzi Suites in trade for our casino cash.

There are a couple of trips planned for April and/or May. We may combine a trip to Crater of Diamonds State Park Arkansas with our Tyler Mini-Rally trip. . This turns a long trip into two short trips with a few days at each stop. Sounds like a good gasoline decision.

Shari has been "summarizing" the yard, with new plants, bulbs and a couple of new rose bushes plus I put out the Scotts Weed and Feed and Oven & Under Ant and Insect Killer. I have also been very busy helping my nephew restore his new house that was moved to the ranch in January. All of the copper was missing due to a band of starving copper miners taking all of it that they could remove....the bastards..... Anyway, it is restored, thanks to my talents, not to say that some switches may or may not operate the same things that they did before but one must make choices based on information that is not available....that is my story and I'm sticking to it.

February 1, 2008 Crystal Beach for Mardi Gras with Friends
We camped at the Bolivar Peninsula RV Park, Crystal Beach with Ron and Peggy and some classmates. It was great weather and a fine parade. The RV Park hosted a nice cookout "after party".

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Shakedown Oct3, 2003

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2003 Newmar Kountry Star

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Niagara Falls
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Jake at the South Pole 2001

Jake at the South Pole 2001