Saturday, March 20, 2010

New Rig

After returning from Rockport last week, I had to call my RV Dealer and make an appointment for my 5th Wheel for a checkup. I took it in on Friday morning and explained the water leaking situation that occurred after I used the washout function after dumping the black tank. By the time I had delivered the fiver and ran some errands it was time for lunch. While sitting at the cafe, I observed this vehicle pull up. The answer to all my problems! Get a smaller camper. One that I can utilize in all situations and camp sizes. No more worrying whether I can back the rig in a smaller site. Just take it all in one! If you look real close, you can see that this rig has everything a person would need to set up house. Complete with up to date styling, unique to our home state of Texas, what could be easier! Actually this rig is a piece of Art! A fellow that I went to school with made this work of Art, to compete in car shows. Glen Lenderman is the "One man Band" and can simulate a four piece dance band all by himself. I have seen him perform many times and still wonder how he does it. He has an electronic rythm section, some music tracks with backup instruments and he plays guitar while playing the bass tones using a foot pedal system. All I can say is it works! A great musician and gifted entertainer. He only has to pay himself and not worry about band members showing up, or having to make a big paycheck to pay the band! I believe he has been doing this for over 25 years. He also travels in a converted passenger bus, so I guess that makes him an RVer also.
Anyone needed entertainment at your RV rallys or Parks, let me know and I can hook you up with him. Now I just have to convince Peggy that this rig would make our travel much simpler! For some reason I doubt that she will be willing to trade her Heartland Bighorn with two big Air conditioners, refrigerator, flushing toilet, big screen TV and fireplace for the Hillbilly Rig! Everyone Travel Safe and "Ya'll Come Back Now Here"

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Sunday, March 14, 2010

Back in East TX and not Happy about it!

Sadly, our week of vacation is over and we are not happy about having to come back to that "W" thing. We even talked about calling in "Retired". Just tell them to pick up there stuff that we have around the house and mark us off the payroll! Would'nt that be fun to do just once. Having obligations are things that we grown-ups have to deal with, and we both have tried to keep ours for most of our lives. I know that I have had a paying job of some kind or other since I was 17 years old and Peggy about the same. We have spent the last week enjoying the company of some retired folks, who just seem to have a "roll with the flow" attitude. No need to worry, just handle whatever comes up and enjoy the here and now. I find that very attractive and could get used to that very quick. I lost track of what day of the week it was and someone in the group said that they may not know and do not care most of the time what day of the week it is.  Peggy and I did learn a new card game for us called Hand and Foot. After receiving some good instruction, we were off and running. The group had a great time playing cards, having potlucks, sitting around the campfire and having Happy Hours! I like the way these folks think. They are either cooking and eating or talking about cooking and eating. How can you go wrong. You meet the nicest people in the RV community. Our neighbor in the park was leaving on Friday headed back for his home in Wisconsin. It seems that he has to get back and start the Maple Syrup operation he owns. Tapping the trees, collecting the sap and making syrup! Pretty Cool even if I dont like Maple syrup. He spends every winter on the Texas coast fishing and doesnt go back until time to do the syrup.  We spent a lot of time Geocaching around the Rockport area. This is a real quick way to learn your way around a new town. Hunting Geocaches takes you all over and around to places that you  would not see if you were just visiting. We found all of the caches that we hunted except for two. I think we finished with about 20 or so located. I found a couple of travel bugs to take back to East Tx and place in someone elses cache, to get them on down the road. The below is a photo of a car, travel bug that is in a race with other Geocachers in the Dallas area to see how far their cars can be taken by folks like me who find them and take them somewhere else.

I got to endulge my love for boats and all things boat related by touring the Texas Maritime Museum. This place had photos of the early side wheel paddle boats that shipped products of all kinds up and down most of the bigger rivers of the state. I even saw a lot of giant photos of the early Republic of Texas Navy that used Schooners as gun boats to attack naval ships of France during the early days of our state. I would have taken some photos to include, but the rules said "no pictures inside the museum". Of course they would sell you pictures produced for this purpose for a "nominal fee". The easy access to this quiet bay made landing ships of all kinds easy and it evolved quickly as the major port to ship cattle and other livestock. This pretty much ended when the railways became active and other areas of the country were used as hubs to ship cattle by rail from Kansas City. The museum also had a large exibit of the early oil drilling operations in the gulf, and the designs of the first offshore oil rigs. Very interesting stuff to me. Peggy took a photo from atop the observation deck on the third floor of the museum of the small harbor.

Here I am trying to steal an anchor for my little flat bottom boat at home. I wanted one that will hold and not let the boat drift off. This should do the trick!
I also tried to find one of these beauties lounging around town, but did not find a single mermaid anywhere around the water.
The City of Rockport has a small nature trail and pond area located right on the highway. We stopped and walked just a hundred yards or so to a bird viewing area and saw this pair of Black-Bellied Whistling Ducks, just called "whistlers" by everyone local. There were about 20 in the group but most swam away as we approached. These two came back once we got still and swam up close enough for Peggy to get a photo. 

After the Saturday morning ritual of dumping the holding tanks we were all set to leave and stopped by the little group of campers to say goodbye. As we pulled up and stopped, water began pouring out of the underbelly of our 5ver. I had no idea where the water came from, since we had just dumped, and worried about it off and on all the way home, wondering where this problem started. As soon as I got online to the Heartland owners forum, and typed in a search, the obvious answer seems to be that a check valve located in the walls of the bathroom has gone bad. This check valve is only used when someone hooks up to the flush valve on the sewer, to clean the tank after dumping. This was the last thing done after dumping all the holding tanks and other owners have had problems with this check valve. The forum even shows photos of the offender and tells of remedies used by other owners to take care of the issue. It is great to be able to quickly go online for an issue and to keep you from going crazy. Luckily we had no inside damage and I will take the Rolling Condo to our local dealer and have this fixed. It will entail taking a wall board off to access the pipes and of course, I could take the wall board off, but probably would make a bigger mess than the water leak. I think I will leave it to the professionals to do, since I have an agreement with those tradesmen. I won't try to do their job if they wont try to do mine! Works for me. As long as it is ready to roll again soon. I had a bright idea to take another route home and bypass the greater Houston area. I hate driving on the freeways and figured that it might take a little longer to go the other route, the scenery would be peacful and the trip much easier on me. I was wrong!  Turns out that I had not accounted for Spring Break, when everyone in the State of Texas who lives within a days drive of the coastal towns, and who owns a vehicle or Motorcycle, attempts to drive in a small area at the same time. So that small amount of time added to the trip meant that the five and one half hours long trip, turned into nine hour trip, with me catching every single red light from Port Lavaca Texas to North of the big bridge crossing in Baytown!  A couple of detours, a missed highway turn, and lunch put us dragging into the driveway about an hour before dark thirty. One very long day on the road. I am never doing that again! Today we have to get the 5ver unloaded and everything back in the proper place and get ready to do that "W" thing very early tomorrow morning. We miss Rockport already!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Rockport Texas, and the Birds

We blasted off from home on Saturday morning at 6am, headed to Rockport Tx and a visit with some RV Dreamers we have chatted with online for about a year. My travel programs said it was about 289 miles to our destination, The Last Resort RV park on Hwy 35 just south of Rockport on the road to Aransas Pass. The trip was smooth as silk until we got into Houston. The traffic was not heavy on the north side of town, but as we got to the South Side the traffic picked up and soon, my neck muscles were tight as Banjo strings. The freeway sign said "Major Accident Ahead, Freeway Closed" We kept seeing that sign posted on the traffic control bulletin boards on the side, but never saw a wreck. After leaving Houston proper and the sprawl around it, I started feeling the wind whipping us. The further South we went, the harder the wind blew. Turning off of Hwy 59 onto Hwy 71 around El Campo, the wind was coming from the coast and really holding me up. I noticed the milage on the truck display dropped from nearly 13mpg to 10. We stopped to eat a bite in Port Lavaca and then made it on in. I had copied some directions to the park, but did not take into account that I was not coming in on the same road, so I  was not sure where the park was in relation to our location. A quick call to our RV Dreams friends cleared it right up and we were only a mile from the park entrance, and going the right direction! We soon were backing into our space and the RV Dreams crew came by and introductions went all around. We have enjoyed the time off so far, if we could just get the weather to turn around, it would be perfect. I have posted some pics, but since the rain and cloudy weather arrived, the pics are too dark. We explored anway in the truck, as I am still trying to see my first up close Whooping Crane. We finally got close today near the Goose Island State Park, with a few flying just over our head and seeing some at a distance in the water. Also got to see the Big Tree! The largest Liveoak in the State and possibly in the U.S. With a circumfrance of 35 feet, and an 89 foot crown,,its a dang big tree!! Below are some pics of the waterfront area and Goose Island State Park. Hoping to get a good pic of the Crane before our time is up. Until next time, everyone travel safe.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

A Day At The Office! No Really!

Someone sent an email awhile back and ask me "just what the hell do you do everyday" So, on the way to work this morning I thought I would use my Iphone to make a few picks with some information. Plus it was so damn pretty, that I just wanted to stay outside. I found every excuse today to walk over to the other buildings, judges offices, the jail. the parking lot. But I got tired of taking pictures and just quit on that front. This first pick is the back parking lot of the Sheriffs Dept, notice how the parking lot is nearly empty. I get in early on purpose, in order to scan the newspaper, grab a bite of something and get my caffiene level balanced!

The new keypad installed last month keeps out only the persons with the secret code! Sometimes I forget the secret code and bang on the door until someone comes and opens it laughing. I also forget to hit the open door button on the inside wall before trying bust out the door (it will not budge) I have not broke anything, but have managed to bang my laptop up and stub my toe a couple of times.

On getting into the back door, I aways check my inbox to see if someone has assigned me a new case over night. Dang! sure enough I Have Mail! I wish sometimes that I could do like Fred Sanford of the old TV show Sanford and Sons. He would just put bills back in the box and forget about them. But here, If you dont pick up mail,,,someone higher up the chain with rank will deliver it personally! (you dont want personal delivery)

After stopping for mail and stopping to put a pot of fresh coffee on in the break area, its on to my on little office to start the day. The offices are set up in a big square, with supervisors on the outer ring (with windows) and the rest of us set up all down the hallways of the big square. We have rooms set aside for supplies, video equipment, interview, evidence and even a weight room that some of the folks actually do on their lunch hour!

As you can tell if you click on the pics, I have a Nautical scene working in my office! I have had criminals as well as victims look at that picture and tell me that they wish they were there! Yeah me too!

I promise, I am not asleep in this pic of me on the phone. Despite what some folks think about all that excitement, well most of it is phone work, paperwork, drudge and a very little bit of satisfaction when you can put the bad guy away and help the suffering of their victims. It is a great day if the help is more than the drudge! Sometimes thats the best you get. At the end of a 10 hour shift, I always stop by the door to say goodbye to George, the Pelican. He never complains and gives everyone something to think about while they are in my office telling me the horrible things that those they love have done to them, their children, their family. I try to stay clear of getting emotionally involved, but dang! sometimes it is very hard to do. Thanks for coming by. Be Safe

Good Nite George, keep a close eye out on the boats!

Monday, March 1, 2010

March Roaring in Like A Lion

Here we are five days before The Rolling Condo sets out on the first trip of the year. Peggy and I spent Sunday evening checking systems on the fiver. First I had taken the one nearly empty propane bottle to have it filled on Saturday. The first time I have had a bottle filled since we bought the Bighorn in October 2008. Turns out those RV bottles are pretty dang heavy. I did not think so when I loaded it empty. When I jerked it up off the ground one handed after the tank was filled, I felt it all the way from my toes up to my puny arthritic shoulders. I had to get the other hand involved and wallow it up my belly to the back of the truck! Glad no one saw this except the propane guy, Peggy and at least a hundred motorist driving down U.S. 59! By the time I unloaded it and wallowed it into the storage area, I was winded. I hooked it back up and told Peggy that we needed to bleed the air out of the lines on Sunday, after I had rested. We spent Sunday hooking up and pressurizing the water system, just in case the winter freeze caused a water line to bust. Everything okay on that end. The slides were put out and shelves restocked and for the last thing, I again mentioned that we needed to make sure the air in the gas lines was gone. Good thing we did, because it took about thirty minutes to get all the air out of the lines. Starting with the top burners, then working our way to the oven and finally the water heater, all is working as it should. We also checked all the floors around the slides and windows for any wet carpet. Peggy even checked in the front closet for wet carpet or any signs of water coming in. All is good so we can check the air in the tires on the Condo and the truck, air as needed and be ready to roll. Now if we could get the weather to cooperate, it would be grand! March 1, and when I woke up this morning, the rain was beating the roof. It rained pretty much all day and was raining as I started home. Peggy suggested that bad weather is forecast for our trip, but since we dont have to stay in tents, let it rain. The below photo was taken by my daughter Megan during the big snowfall. She can take better pics through her windsheild driving down the road, than I can with a tripod and a pretty day. Some people got it and some don't. This will be the last word on winter at our house. Only blue skies and warm temps will get my camera out of the box. Everyone take care until next time.