* RV Travelogue 2011 *



1-24 JAN, MONTGOMERY AL -- We started the new year in a flurry of medical appointments as we wrapped up our annual Winter visit to children and grandchildren in Alabama. There were more very cold nights (20's) in Alabama this year that in the past, but we were able to find one nice Saturday when Paul could go out to a local shooting range and shoot the clay course with our oldest son and grandson ...great fun! The following week, a few hours were spent at a local pistol range with our younger son, a local police officer. The day before we left Alabama our couch was returned to us after being gone for nearly four weeks ...totally recovered and ready for many more years of use. McKinney Upholstery picked it up at the motorhome on the 29th of December, and Bill & Jacob were very helpful in assisting us in getting it properly back in place with seat belts re-inserted, and everything bolted down to the frame which is bolted to the floor. There were more than the normal amount of cold days in Montgomery this year, and by the end of our visit we were more than ready to seek warmer climates.

25 JAN-6 FEB, PERDIDO BAY FL -- The day we were to leave Alabama started with light rain, but the temperature wasn't bad. We tried to get the LP tank refilled on our way out of town but the RV dealership Carrier Modeltold us they "can't pump LP in the rain" because "the hose will freeze or something." I decided that was a ridiculous statement to cover for someone who didn't want to go outside on a cool, damp day ...it was 49 degrees with light mist at the time, and I know that LP itself is around -40 degrees and will instantly freeze anything it is sprayed on!! Oh well, with the help of my cell phone we found another place along our route to take our money ...$96 for 24 gallon of LP. We filled the tank on our way into Montgomery, and that is almost twice as much as we normally use during our November to January visit. We ran out of rain a few miles south of Montgomery, and arrived at the home of friends just west of Pensacola about 3pm. It is a little less than 200 miles south of Montgomery, but the weather was a bit warmer for a few days, then was back to cold and wet. Both our computer and primary cell phone/smartphone had to be replaced during our last week in Montgomery, so a good bit of our time during this two weeks was spent in getting the new computer and phone set up to meet our needs. In addition, we had a great visit with our friends, got down to the beach on Perdido Key a couple of times, and finally got in a visit to the Museum of Naval Aviation at NAS Pensacola just a few miles away. There is a lot to see there, even with a good bit of construction going on in the exhibit area. They have a number of large models of carriers on display from the earliest models right up to the newest carrier, the George H.W. Bush, and many restored vintage aircraft including a cut-away of a PBY Catalina "Flying Boat" and a well-worn Ford Tri-motor. Much of the facility is built to create the impression that you are walking on an aircraft carrier. Pictured here is a model of "the first US Navy carrier."

7-13 FEB, MONTGOMERY AL -- It was cool and rainy on the 7th when we left Perdido Bay, and we drove in heavy fog about half of the 180 miles to Montgomery AL. We stopped at a rest area for lunch, and then at the Flying J just south of Montgomery for 56 gallon of diesel @ $3.49/gallon. We had alternating rain and sunshine after we arrived at Capitol City RV park in Montgomery. During our week in Montgomery we finally got the second Norcold refrigerator kit installed in the motorhome (ordered in November). This time the refrigerator had to be taken loose and slid out apx 10" to provide enough room for the tech to do the work on the back of the refrigerator, they put back into place and fastened down. The refrigerator access panel is smaller on Winnebago motorhomes, so these recalls take much longer on a Winnebago than on other RVs, and require phone calls between the service manager and Norcold to get more than the normal 30 minutes of labor cost approved. Our's took around 2 hrs. The dogs got a bath and groom, we had doctor appointment and chiropractor appointments, we got prescription refills for two old humans and one old dog ...and we got in some more visits with kids and grandkids! At the weekly rate, our 7 nights at Capitol City RV Park came to apx $18.50/night.

14 FEB, WEST MONROE LA -- The weather finally warmed up, and we had a beautiful day as we drove Westward toward Texas. We stopped for the night in West Monroe LA after about 7 hours driving, spending the night at Pavilion RV Park. Although we had a long pull-through site, we did unhook the car so we could find a place for our Valentine Day dinner out ...Cracker Barrel got the nod as we both wanted a good Chicken Fried Steak. Pavilion is a fair to average RV park with gravel roads and slightly off level dirt sites just off I-20, and is considerably over-priced for the basic amenities it offers. With our Passport America 1/2 price discount, the cost for our one night was $21.

15 FEB-14 MAR, NACOGDOCHES TX -- We left West Monroe about 9:15am. After an early lunch stop at Flying J in Greenwood LA where we bought 72 gallon of Diesel at $3.49 a gallon (-3 cents/gallon discount on our RV loyalty card, and 5% nearly 17 cents/gallon discount on our Pentagon Federal Visa), Nacogdocheswe arrived in Nacogdoches just after 1pm. We called ahead that morning, and got the only site available at Nacogdoches RV Park & Storage on the NW Loop. Though there are a few other RV parks in the area, this was the only one we had been able to get much of any information on prior to our arrival. It is ok, but there are only a small number of sites and most are very poor for motorhomes ...trailers work much better in sites that are considerably unlevel end to end. As you can see in the picture here, we had to add all the wood blocks we carry plus some concrete blocks laying around the area under the front leveling jacks and tires to get the rig level, which made the front entrance quite high. The metal step at the RV entry door is normally just above ankle height or so ...here it was knee high on our tallest traveler while the towbar at the rear was just a few inches from being in the dirt!! We noticed the other sites all had a little wood "patio" item that this site lacked. After a phone call, RV park management was helpful in bringing us some concrete patio blocks to help get the entry steps under control, and we later added a wood shipping pallet we picked up off the side of the highway (God will provide!!). There were frequent dogs roaming loose, including several small barkers at an unfenced trailer just across the narrow street to the south. The RV park is co-located with a storage facility, veterinary hospital for both small and large animals, and a feed store so there is frequent traffic on the two narrow paved streets. The local livestock auction barn and county Exposition Center are immediately south of the park, and the "sugar" sand/dirt parking lot stretching across the front of both facilities was the source of plenty of flying dust during most of our stay. We likely will check out other RV park options while we are in town for our next stay ...surely they couldn't be much worse! While in Nacogdoches, we enjoyed worship at two local United Methodist Churches, and found some very good places to eat. Ocean Buffet may be the best Chinese buffet we have experienced anywhere! El Ranchero Mexican Restaurant is very good, with superb salsa, and they provide 2 free Margaritas with each adult dinner. Yum! As "the oldest town in Texas", the home of Stephen F. Austin State University, and the headquarters of Foretravel Motorhomes, Nacogdoches is an interesting town to visit. Originally a Caddo Indian settlement named for the son of a Caddo Chief, and later the site of a Spanish mission, it was designated a pueblo by Spain in 1779. The El Camino Real Indian trade route can be easily walked here. While the state of Texas claims six flags throughout its history, as the headquarters of three organized rebellions seeking independence as the Republic of Texas, Nacogdoches counts nine. Nacogdoches lies near the edge of "the Texas forest district," which was perhaps part of the reason for our allergies acting up here ...check one place off of our "possible places to live" list. At the monthly rate, our nightly cost at Nacogdoches RV park was $14.29.

15 MAR-14 APR, ATHENS TX -- After a month of blowing dust and pollen, we were quite ready to leave Nacogdoches RV Park. We needed the annual state inspection on our motorhome and car, so called a couple of nearby RV places a day ahead of time to see if they could do the inspection. One told us, "Sir, we can only do RVs ...we can't do any motorized vehicles, we can only do RVs." ...apparently that "RV" dealer sells only trailers, and in spite of being less than a mile from the headquarters factory of Foretravel Motorcoach, they have a pretty limited idea of what an "RV" is!! So we checked for inspection stations close Tara Winery Houseto our destination North of Athens, and found a place near our route. We got away from Nacogdoches about 10:30am, and stopped for lunch and some WalMart shopping about 40 miles North in Jacksonville. We arrived at the inspection place in Athens just after 1pm, got the inspection paperwork done, and arrived at Texan RV Park about 6 miles NW of Athens just after 1:30pm. Texan RV park is considerably larger than the tiny Nacogodoches RV Park, and has much more spacious sites. You could easily put 4 of the Nacogdoches sites in the space of just two of the Texan RV Park sites! The Texan pull-through sites are a bit nose low again, but nowhere near as bad as those in Nacogdoches. We did not need all the lumber under the jacks here to get level, we have a nice concrete patio, and there is no huge dusty lot upwind! While in the Athens area, we explored the Cedar Creek Reservoir area. The reservoir runs about 20 miles from just West of Athens to the Northwest, and has lots of development all around it. One afternoon we visited the relatively new Tara Winery just a few miles away. On the grounds is a very neat house that is available for rent by the room or as a group. $800 will rent you the entire second floor for a night!! We spent two days exploring just part of the world famous First Monday Trade Days at Canton about 20 miles to the north. This huge event has been in existence since the 1850's, and has really exploded in growth in the past 40 years. We spent more energy and more money there than we really needed to, and still there was a lot that we didn't get to!! And one Friday we drove up to the Dallas area for lunch with some college friends, celebrating the selection of a new Mascot after the NCAA declared several years ago that "Indians" was no longer an acceptable mascot. In spite of close connections with a number of tribal respresenatives throughout the university's history, and a very detailed, highly authentic, and highly educational "Tipi Village" every year during Homecoming, the NCAA's politically correct rampage prevailed ...apparently our university and it's alumni did not have the political pull and financial resources to buy them off as a few much larger universities were able to do (think "Florida Seminoles" for one??). So, after a 5+ year selection process involving students, faculty, alumni and friends, the McMurry Indians become the McMurry Warhawks. Plans are to continue the tradition of Tipi Village, which is attended by thousands of school children each year. During the last ten days here, our younger dog Maggie had some strange health issues. Late one evening she began acting intoxicated, losing control of her balance and legs. The next day she eventually could not stand up at all for more than a few seconds. She acted as if she had been drugged, and yet she was alert and bright eyed. We found a vet who did several inconclusive tests, and after consulting a Dallas vet recommended spinal surgery the next day in Dallas to check the possibility of a spinal lesion. We decided to wait for a few days before going for that option, and see what medication might do. After 24 hours on antibiotics, a steroid, and ear cleaning and medication, she was greatly improved. A week later she was 98% recovered with only an occasional unsteadiness evident when walking. Even our dogs have strange ailments!! At the monthly rate, our nightly cost at Texan RV Park was $12.10.

15-20 APR, SAGINAW TX -- With a few extra days in our very loose schedule, we decided to spend them at Fowler's RV Park near Saginaw TX to visit with a family member who recently had surgery. What would have been a relatively easy 120 mile drive became progressively less pleasant as the relatively gusty winds became stronger. By the time we arrived in Saginaw, the winds were apx 35 mph with gusts to 50-60mph. Roadside damages were evident to signs, railroad crossing arms, and other items. Driving into that wind even bent the bracket holding our FMCA member plate above the front license plate, folding it down over the license plate! The only other noticeable lasting effect from the wind was one side mirror being pushed several inches out of adjustment toward the rear. We have stayed at Fowler's before, and were pleasantly surprised to find the rough entryway has been nicely paved. There is nothing fancy here but it is decent and convenient. After rejecting several other "possible" sites, we got a very level and amply long back-in site, perhaps the best site we have had here in our several stays. We had a good visit with family members, and spent a day getting the annual chassis service done on the motorhome ...quite pricey when transmisson and coolant changes are added to the normal items. As normal, we definitely contributed to the local economy! For our six night stay, our nightly cost at Fowler's was $20.83.

21-27 APR, LUBBOCK TX -- We left Fowler's RV park at 9:30am in a heavy mist ...very welcome in Texas right now with all the wild fires that have been burning all over the state. On the 300 mile drive West to Lubbock, we drove in the heavy mist for apx 100 miles, Goatsand finally found sunshine in the last 40 miles. This is a beautiful drive across a sparsely settled part of Texas, this time sometimes marred by the blackened landscape where some of the many recent windfires had burned out of control. We stopped at a Subway in Seymour for lunch, and at a Stripes station in tiny Ralls for 37 gallons of diesel at $4.09 per gallon ...fuel prices are definitely climbing!! We arrived at Lubbock RV Park just north of Lubbock just after 3:30pm. We have stayed here a few times before, and enjoy the little Prairie Dog Town just West of the RV park easily visible from our motor home ...they quickly spread the alarm and disappear down their holes when dogs are walked nearby! And one day the Prairie Dogs were joined by a heard of goats that briefly wandered into the RV park area and the empty site right outside our windows (left). While in Lubbock we EasterEggHuntenjoyed several visits with family in the area. On Saturday afternoon we watched an annual Easter Egg Hunt at Buffalo Springs Lake just East of Lubbock (right). The event is organized by several private individuals for children from the Lubbock Children's Home and Lubbock Boy's Ranch. On Easter Sunday we enjoyed a Sunrise Worship Service and pancake breakfast with the people of Abernathy UMC in the Abernathy City Park about 15 miles North of the RV park ...due to heavy clouds, we didn't see the sun, but the fellowship was great. On Sunday afternoon we drove out to Whiteriver Lake several miles South of Crosbyton and East of Lubbock. In spite of some high winds during the week, we enjoyed a visit to an indoor shooting range in Lubbock, and had a great visit with family. At the weekly rate, our nightly cost at Lubbock RV park was $20.

28 APR-1 JUN, ALBUQUERQUE NM -- Our apx 330 mile drive to Albuquerque was on a rare very calm and beautiful day compared to all the high winds before and after. We stopped for lunch at the Subway at Love's Travel Stop just East of Clovis NM, made a couple of doggie stops, and then refueled with 50 gallon of diesel at $4.14 a gallon at CasaRodena the Love's in Albuquerque just two miles from our destination at Arbor RV Park. It was a pleasant drive across the beautiful and sparsely settled Eastern NM grasslands. We arrived at Arbor RV Park at close to 3pm Mountain time, and were parked right next to friends we met several years ago at another RV park in Albuquerque. Arbor is a smaller RV park located in a very peaceful neighborhood just a few blocks from the great Paseo del Bosque Bike Trail along the Rio Grande River. The paved trail is one of the finest in the country, and is very popular with walkers, skaters, and cyclists. For the off-road enthusiasts, there is also a dirt track popular with the mountain bikers. In addition to the Bosque Trail, Albuquerque has many other dedicated trails and bicycle lanes on city streets. We had a great time in Albuquerque visiting family and friends. CasaRodena There was a constant procession of cyclists, roller-bladers, and walkers passing by to and from the trail; there was a Humming Bird that came by almost every evening, and one day a swarm of bees arrived and clustered in the tree near our front door for a little over 24 hours before moving on. Other than a few very windy days, the weather was beautiful, and the recently repaved Bosque trail was fantastic. In addition to the bicycle rides, there were a couple of pleasant outings to the excellent city operated Gun Range Park on the West Mesa. While in town, we made our normal visit to the jewelry sale department at Palms Trading Post, visited the Turquoise Museum, and enjoyed a very good Neil Diamond Tribute concert and later the Deck of Cars Custom Car Show at the Rt 66 Casino at Rio Puerco just West of Albuquerque. North of the RV park along the Rio Grande in the North valley in the Los Ranchos de Albuquerque area are a number of farms and vineyards. Many are open to the public for tours and special events. Pictures here were taken at the Casa Rodena Winery where some of our local family are members of the "wine club." There are lots of things to do in the Albuquerque area! At the monthly rate plus 5 nights, our nightly cost at Arbor RV park was a little over $11 per night.

1-7 JUN, CORTEZ CO -- Due to forecasts of high winds with gusts to 50mph in SW Colorado later in the day, we left Albuquerque at 8am on our 260 mile drive to Cortez CO. Having lived and traveled in both New Mexico and Colorado over many years, neither of us had ever seen the cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde, so we figured it was time. It was a beautiful drive up US Highway 550, though the scenery on the first part was somewhat obscured by smoke from Mesa Verdeforest fires somewhere. When we were about half way to Cortez, the air suddenly cleared. We arrived at Sundance RV Park in Cortez at 1pm, and pretty much beat the winds to town. Our first afternoon in Cortez was spent at the Anasazi Heritage Center just north of Cortez. In addition to the many artifacts and exhibits in the Visitor Center Museum, this is the starting point for visits to Canyons of the Ancients National Monument located west of Cortez. Most sites there require "a high clearance vehicle," so we passed on that adventure and spent the rest of the afternoon at the local Walmart re-stocking the motorhome pantry. We spent one day exploring trading posts and pottery shops Mesa Verdein the local area, finding a great selection of native american jewelry at Southwest Indian Traders just south of Cortez, and on another day we drove to Blanding, Utah to visit Cedar Mesa Pottery. We had seen some flyers for Cedar Mesa, and they had some unique scenic pottery that we liked very much ...and we returned to the motorhome with a box holding several beautiful vases and other pieces! And of course we went to Mesa Verde. We had seen many pictures of the "cliff dweller" ruins over the years, and seeing the sites in person only adds to the mystery. The superb stone construction accomplished on these canyon-side ledges ...from very small single shelters to elaborate multi-level structures that housed 100-200 people ...over 800 years ago is very thought-provoking. The picture on the left is of Cliff Palace, one of the larger sites often pictured in publicity brochures, where visitors can take Ranger-guided tours. The picture on the left is Spruce Tree House, also fairly large, where visitors can do self-guided tours under supervision of a Ranger on site. It would be easy to spend days exploring the many historic sites in the park, and there is an RV park and lodges in the park for those who want to stay closer to the area. Although we paid for a week, our plan for Cortez was to leave after six nights to give us two days to get to NW Oklahoma. At the weekly rate, our cost for six nights at Sundance RV Park was $33 per night.

8 JUN, CAPULIN NM -- We left Cortez around 8:30am, and after a quick stop at Subway headed East across Southern Colorado. Along our very Capulin NMscenic 362 mile journey we passed through Durango and Pagosa Springs, then climed over Wolf Creek Pass at over 10,000 ft, LaVeta Pass, Raton Pass, and numerous unnamed smaller passes. We stopped for lunch and a dog walk on top of Wolf Creek Pass, and stopped in Raton NM where we bought 82 gallon of diesel at $4.09 a gallon. We were surprised to note that we got 7.3 mpg in spite of the many severe climbs through the mountains! A little after 4 pm we arrived at Capulin RV Park in Capulin NM just about 30 miles East of Raton, where we stopped at Capulin RV Park "in the shadow of Capulin Volcano," thankfully long inactive! Somewhere in this area, early in the 1900, the Chaplain's maternal grandparents homesteaded somewhere between Capulin and Des Moines. After a few years in New Mexico, they loaded their covered wagon and made the 30 day journey back to Western Oklahoma where they operated a Chevrolet dealership for many years. Capulin RV Park is a nice little park, owned and operated by the Hall family, in a tiny little town. Our cost for one night at Capulin RV Park was $28.

9-15 JUN, BOILING SPRINGS SP, WOODWARD OK -- We got away Capulin at close to 9 am, heading east across a few miles of New Mexico, and then the entire length of the Oklahoma Panhandle. We made a couple of dog-walk stops along the way, stopped for lunch in the Walmart parking lot in Guymon OK, and stopped for fuel on the NW side of Woodward where we took on 40 gallon of diesel at $3.79 a gallon ...much better price than the recent over $4 we have have seen! ...and we got 7.8 mpg. That flat-land running with very little traffic works great! At just over 300 miles we arrived at Boiling Springs State Park NE of Woodward ...going from 46 degrees at 7am in NM to 100 degrees at 5pm in OK! We have stayed at Boiling Springs State Park several times before, and enjoy the spacious concrete 50a full-hookup pull-through sites at the upper campground where we see deer and other wildlife walking through the campground nearly every day. I was pretty warm during the week, but only one night of listening to weather warnings and watching the clouds. We had a great visit with family members in the area, celebrating the 70th wedding anniversary of an aunt and uncle in Woodward. We also made it to the historic family church in nearby Gage, and visited the family farm south of there. For our week-long stay at Boiling Springs, our cost was $23 a night.

16-22 JUN, ENID OK -- After a good visit in Woodward, we left Boiling Springs SP around 11 am. Although wanting to head East, we headed West out of the park and into Woodward where we got on the highway Eastward toward Enid. Maintenance personnel in the park had warned us the East entrance was extremely tight/overgrown with trees. We have been that route in the past, but they told us it was worse than ever and warned we would be bound to receive tree branch damage trying to to that way ...they also said they have plans to cut the trees back "during the off-season" this year so it should be much better next time we are back in the area. It was another hot day, and strong winds out of the south, so not a terribly pleasant drive, especially since some of US412 is narrow and rough two-lane highway. We stopped about half way along the 100 mile drive for a dog walk and lunch, arriving in Enid a little after 1pm. We decided to check our a new RV park this year just north of the one we have used several times before. The new one is about 18 months old, located on the site of a former large trailer park. Sites are quite spacious, with lighter tree cover than the other park making for easier satellite TV operation. They also have a new swimming pool right across the street from our site ...that would feel good on these hot days! We had a super visit with family members in Enid, and checked out the new Cherokee Strip Heritage Center Museum. Our cost for the one week stay at Ashely Lane RV park was just under $18 per night on their weekly rate.

23-29 JUN, GUTHRIE OK -- It was a short and pleasant drive from Enid to Guthrie, about 68 miles. Because RV parks normally want you out by 11am, and not in before 1pm, we stopped at a little roadside park 55ChevyBettyBoopjust north of Dover for a leisurely lunch over the sub sandwiches we had bought the previous day in Enid. We have stopped at this Dover park before ...it is a bit tight for a 40' motorhome towing a car, but the tight roads are surrounded by plenty of firm grass so staying on the pavement isn't a necessity. There was evidence that tractor trailers much longer than we are had been there before us. We arrived at Cedar Valley RV Park & Golf Resort about 12:30. There were many more empty sites here than we have seen in the past, perhaps scared off by the tornado that went through the area a couple of weeks ago about 1/4 mi East of the RV park. Part of the golf course and several homes were destroyed, but the RV park was not damaged. While in the area, we visited family and friends. While Jean participated in a wedding shower for our nephew's bride-to-be, Paul checked out several classic car shows with his brother-in-law and got to drive "Betty Boop" ...a sweet yellow and white '55 Chevy BelAir ...on the drive home! As usual, we had a great time in the area. Our cost for the week at Cedar Valley was $18.57 per night.

30 JUN-29 JUL, SAGINAW TX -- June 29 was a very hot day as we drove apx 230 miles from Guthrie to Saginaw TX. We made a rest stop for lunch along the way, eating lunch later than normal because Oklahoma apparently has closed all the few rest areas they had on I-35!! About 30 minutes after lunch at the TX Welcome Center, we made a quick stop for a few RV equipment items at the Camping World near Denton. Strangely, we found extremely limited parking for RVs at an RV sales and equipment store, but managed to park beside a curb in the tight parking area without blocking traffic for the few minutes it took to do our shopping. After another stop for fuel at the Haslet junction of US287 and US287 Business, we arrived at Fowler's RV park north of Saginaw just after 1pm. While in Ft Worth, we spent July 4th weekend at Lake Bridgeport, spent a day target shooting at a family deer lease near Jacksboro, attended a family reunion, and just had a great time visiting family members. We also had the upper and lower ball joints and drag link replaced on the motorhome ...we do tend (whether we want to or not) to support the local economy wherever we visit! While the motorhome was in the shop, one weekend was spent in the Edmond OK area for a wedding a mini-reunion with some of the other side of the family. And with all that going on, and constant 100+ degree days, we still managed to finally find a "stick house" in East Texas that we liked well enough to put an offer on. As we prepared to leave Saginaw to travel 30 miles East to the Dallas/Carrolton area, closing was projected for late August. With furniture and other items scattered among three children and a storage facility in Alabama and Georgia, it likely will take several months to complete the move-in process. We plan to continue our motorhome travels on something of maybe a half-time basis, but now will have a "home base" to return to when we want to "stand down" for a bit. On the monthly rate, our cost for the month-long stay at Fowler's RV Park was $10 per night.

30 JUL-1 SEP, CARROLLTON TX -- It was a short 39 mile drive from Saginaw Eastward to Sandy Lake RV Park/Resort in Carrollton. Actually only about 28 miles as the crow files, the motorhome route we took to the North of the metroplex was 39 miles. It took right at an hour to get there.SandyLake Sandy Lake RV Park/Resort is just off I-35E on the North side of Dallas, and just across the street from the Sandy Lake Amusement Park. There are 56 permanent mobile home sites and around 280 RV sites. The sites are somewhat tightly packed, but most are workable for a city RV park. Sandy Lake is part of Carefree RV Resorts, and offers 50% off the nightly rate for active duty and retired military. Although it is hard to call an RV park with such small tight sites (most of which are not properly angled to aid in access) a "resort," we did appreciate having a bit of shade in our site at Sandy Lake to protect us from the very hot sun and temps of this long, hot summer. In spite of "official" temps from nearby DFW Airport down around 105-110+ on several days during August, our thermometer (in the shade) read as high as 117 degrees on several occasions. We bought a 10k BTU portable ac unit to help keep inside temps under control, venting it out the driver side window. I saw several portable ac boxes under other rigs and at the trash bins, indicating this was a popular purchase during the intense heat. We finally got some good rain during the night in mid-August, and enjoyed a few days of below-100 temps. We enjoyed visiting with several friends in the Dallas area during August, checking out the Winchester Gallery indoor shooting range in Ft Worth, and finished up the paperwork to close on our house about 125 miles East just SE of Tyler. We actually spent one night in the house after closing! ...soon we will no longer be fulltime RVers. At the monthly rate, our cost for a month plus 3 nights at Sandy Lake RV Resort was just under $22/night ...that includes $260.39 for metered electric for the very hot month!!

2-4 SEP, LAKE BRIDGEPORT, CHICO TX -- From Carrollton, we drove apx 1 hour West to the north side of Lake Bridgeport where we squeezed the motorhome onto the side of the street for the holiday weekend to visit family members at their "lake cabin." We had a great time, in spite of one boat that seemed to want to leave folks stranded ...but each time it did make it to shore without any swimming or towing required. The last morning we were there the long heat wave finally broke and we woke to temps in the 60's ...amazing!

5-16 SEP, WHITEHOUSE TX -- On Labor Day, we drove made our way out of the Lake Bridgeport area and traveled apx 4 hours East and a little South, skirting around the Homebase North side of Ft Worth and Dallas to pass through Greenville and Tyler to end up at Whitehouse TX where we recently bought a house. We parked at Whitehouse RV Park (had to back up about 2 blocks when we found the street behind the park is a dead end, contraty to what the GPS shows...) for two nights while getting electrical repairs done at the house, and two 50a RV outlets installed ...one at the shop by the RV port, and one on the rear of the house near the driveway Homebase (there was a 4-wire service hanging where the previous owner had a hot tub installed and the dangling wires needed to be capped, so we figured what better way to cap a 4-wire 50a circuit than with another RV outlet!!). Two electricians spent most of a day doing repairs throughout the house, an alarm tech spent several hours another day, we had cleaners working for a day and carpet/tile cleaners part of antoher day cleaning up the house (guess we got spoiled by military inspections over the years, but this place was NOT clean by any standards), and termite/pest control experts in one afternoon, and while all these folks did their thing we worked at changing locks, trimming trees, finding a contractor to put in a slab for the RV and stretch the RV cover (verdict was, get rid of the current cover and start over...), and other little tasks. Here you see a couple of pics of Rosie the motorhome in her new "home base" parking spot. The cover needs to be 15-20 ft longer, 1-2 ft taller, and needs to have a slab under it ...and a powerline over the driveway needs to be raised several feet. We slipped in via our neighbor's driveway this time, but need to be able to use our own if possible. Two nights in the Whitehouse RV park came to $20/night ...I guess we'll find out what the nights at the new homebase cost us after we get the utility bill!! :)

17-28 SEP, SHAWNEE OK -- On the 17th, we drove about 6 hr North to the Oklahoma Exposition Center in Shawnee OK FancyDancer for the 2011 S*M*A*R*T (Special Military Active Retired Travel Club) National Muster. We had a great Muster with apx 200 rigs in Shawnee. There was one night followed by about 1/2 day of rain early on, but after the mud dried out it was very pleasant. Paul provided two worship services, and we had a great time. We had some very special entertainment one night by the Oklahoma Fancy Dancers, one each male and female world champion Native American dancers. They were excellent, with awesome costumes! By the end of the muster, Paul had turned over the presidency of the Fulltimers chapter, was re-appointed National Chaplain, and also was installed at At-Large Region Director. After the Muster was over, we stayed on in Shawnee for 3 more nights burning time before heading south toward Texas. Our cost for eleven nights for 30a full-hookup site was just over $22 per night. The normal nightly fee at the Expo Center is $15, but during our Muster the contracted fee was $25 which paid for the use of buildings and facilities in addition to the campground.

29 SEP-5 OCT, SULPHUR OK -- We were the last of our group to depart when we pulled out of Shawnee at GParents At Play sign12:45. We had a reservation at an RV park near Sulphur OK and could not arrive prior to 1pm, so we hung around Shawnee as long as we could to avoid an early arrival charge in Sulphur. Although we do our best to avoid "resorts" due to their normally being overpriced, the Arbuckle RV Resort near Sulphur seems to be a resort in name only. We had a week to kill before getting to Rockport TX, and this was the place we found online when looking for an RV park near the Turner Falls area. We spent one afternoon exploring the fairly new Chickasaw Cultural Center directly across the road, drove through portions of the Chickasaw National Recreation Area which covers several miles across the south side of the town of Sulphur, and visited nearby Turner Falls. Despite several creeks/rivers in the area being nearly dried up due to the prolonged drought, there was a small amount of water running over Turner Falls, and just enough water in the river to flow over the over-road spillways. In additon to the beautiful falls, another attraction in the park is the rock castle. The castle is small by castle standards, but reminiscent of an English castle. It is built of native stone, and perched high on the hillside in a series of rooms connected by narrow stairs, passageways, and/or outdoor walkways. The castle was built in the 1930's, and eventually sat abandoned for many years before becoming a part of the park. It was very calm and quiet at Turner Falls park, with all the recreation facilities closed down and even the fairly nice RV park sitting totally empty. We had checked on staying at the RV park in Turner Falls Park, but they have no sewer connections and do not allow pets. Also, the fairly reasonable RV site cost rises to an unacceptable level when the cost of daily park admission is added in. Our cost for a 50a full-hookup site at Arbuckle RV Resort, where we found the sign at the right, was $24/night.

6-8 OCT, SUNNYVALE TX -- We left Sulphur OK at 10am for the 150 mi drive Southward to Sunnyvale TX just East of Dallas. A stop at the Flying J in Ardmore got us 63 gallon of diesel at $3.59 a gallon, and then we pulled forward and filled the car too at $3.13 a gallon! An hour or so later we stopped had lunch at a Subway near Gainsville TX, then arrived at Plantation Place RV Park near Sunnyvale at apx 1:30pm. PlantationPlaceRVPk Plantation Place requires advance reservations as they have an "express check-in" procedure with no human interaction involved. Unfortunately, we were unable to find our pre-prepared envelope to do the check-in procedure. After a few phone calls that resulted in voice mail messages, the owner came drove into the park, checked her book, and led us to our site. And then she found our registration envelope! After getting water and electric hooked up, Paul drove over to Rockwall to pick up our mail which according to the tracking number message online, was waiting for us there. At the "contract postal unit" the first response was "What is General Delivery?" ...then, "Why was it sent here?". After a phone call to another employee he was told, "She returned it because she didn't know you." (NOTE TO SELF: Be VERY CAREFUL in dealing with a "CPU" (Contract Postal Unit) in the future.) After a tense discussion, they made a call and found the mail was still at the Post Office in Rockwall where the carrier had returned it to earlier in the day. So Paul drove there, and was met with blank stares and a series of unfruitful "Who?" "What?" "Huh?" questions. The clerk couldn't find the parcel and suggested he leave a name and telephone number "in case we find it." Paul refused to leave, repeating again that the Heath CPU had talked to someone just 30 minutes before who confirmed the parcel was there, and in the "carrier" area." A supervisor was summoned. After about 10 minutes a supervisor appeared, she read the note, verfied the name, then said, "Oh, I just had something for you ...did your wife call?" And she went in the back and returned a minute later with our priority mail parcel. Misson accomplished, and lesson learned about Contract Postal Units. Plantation Place RV Park is a fairly basic park with gravel/caliche sites & streets carved out of a grassy field behind a very nice looking plantation style home. One plus was the free wifi which worked very well. The best part of this park is looking at the very nice "plantation house" as you enter from the road!! We stopped in Sunnyvale for a 60th BD party in nearby Rockwall with some of Paul's Kansas high school classmates. Our cost for 3 nights for full hookup site was $33.50 per night.

9 OCT-END OF FULLTIMING, WHITEHOUSE TX -- After early worship at Rockwall UMC, we departed Sunnyvale at apx 11:30. A few miles down the road in Forney we would a place to use the Whataburger coupon we received at the S*M*A*R*T rally in OK ...they make one of the best fast-food hamburgers you can buy! It was a pleasant 100 mile drive East to Whitehouse, with a brief stop on the Tyler East loop where we paid $3.59 a gallon for 29 gallon of diesel ...at least, we THINK we paid for it ...when we went inside for the receipt as instructed by the message on the pump, Refer Delivery the clerk said her computer showed there was no transaction ...go figure. We arrived at our home in Whitehouse a bit after 3pm. When we plugged into our new RV outlet we found there was no power ...hmmmm ...we went up to the house and found power on there, but a "door hanger" indicating that our electric meters had been changed out to "Smart Meters" ...oh joy! ...isn't all this "green" stuff fun! We called in a power outage ...4 hours or so later a service guy arrived and soon declared the meter on the shop (where our RV connection is), was turned off "remotely" and he could do nothing about it. We had already called both OUR power company, AND the power company whose name is on the meter (why aren't they the same name? ...God Bless Cooktop de-regulation ...) and found that "business hours are 9-4pm Mon-Fri, bla, bla, bla..." Fortunately, the temperature wasn't too bad due to a very rare late afternoon shower, so we were able to string extension cords across the back yard to the house and have the basic 20a power, which was enough to run fans and a few lights. We called our electric provider the next morning and got the second meter added to our account, and agreed to pay an extra $10.xx for a "priority" hookup for someone to tweak a computer somewhere to turn the power on in 24-48 hours rather than the standard "3 days". It was turned on in apx 6 hr, so maybe the extra charge was worth it to get done what was supposed to have been done 6 weeks ago??? ...but the yard light does not work because someone has apparently climbed up the pole and removed the bulb... say what?? ...yep, the BULB is gone!! After several telephone calls and email to clueless folks at both our "energy provider" and the "local power company," we found out "the power company" removed the bulb w/o telling us anything, and to get the bulb replaced would cost us $50+ dollars for an "activation fee" plus the monthly charge for power to the light. So, I installed 3 motion activated security lights on the shop for a total cost of less than $50. Blue Arrives TX They light up the yard better than the yard light did ...end of story. The new refrigerator and cooktop were delivered on schedule. I had envisioned a guy with a dolly awkwardly moving the big refer, but these two bulky dudes just walked it inside with a strap under it ...awesome! Later in the day I discovered the "standard" hole in the counter top was too narrow to fit the new cooktop ...some cutting with a borrowed grinder with diamond blade cured that problem (with a LOT of dust generated). We tore out a 3 ft by 4 ft section of the laundry room wall to figure out the strange washer water and drain connections, and had a plumber in to do some surgery to fix the odd setup no one could figure out ...and then a sheetrock expert to patch the wall. The living room furniture that was supposed to be delivered in early October might be delivered in Nov (when we won't be here...), but on the way to buy a washer & dryer, we did manage to buy a used riding lawn mower for $500 at a local small engine repair place, and the guy threw in a used push mower and free delivery. I really hate to see lawn mowers come back into my life, but I found a large "lawn trailer" on Craigslist that will make hauling stuff around the yard much easier. Another afternoon was spent making a table and four chairs out of five boxes of wood pieces and a bag of nuts and screws. And then we had a BYOB (bring your own BED) party when all our kids and grandkids came from Alabama with the '67 F-100 (loaded down with "stuff") on a trailer. It was that weekend that we actually bought a bed for the house! ...a guest bed, but now we can actually "move in" if we choose to! In late Oct, we drove the car to Alabama, hauled a trailer load of stuff from our daughter's home in Atlanta to Montgomery, and then emptied our storage bin and added stuff from two son's homes in Montgomery and hauled everything to Texas. After about 10 hour's work, the contents of the truck (mostly boxes, with a few large furniture items) we transferred into the house. We called the furniture store and "played hard-ball" and they decided it would be better to let us have the floor model couch, love seat & recliner than to let us cancel our order. Another day's work by two electricians and a tree trimmer and all the house circuits seem to now work, the powerlines and trees have been raised high enough for the motorhome to get down the driveway. The only remaining electrical issue that we are aware of is that the shop security lights which come off the house breaker box rather than the shop breaker box apparently receive power from a buried line that acts like "indoor" romex shorting out in wet weather. While the electricians were working, we also got a new water heater courtesy of the home warranty + a $60 "service fee." (and then the electricians had to return to replace the breaker the water heater damaged when it shorted out). We joined the local United Methodist Church, and have begun to get used to staying in one place for awhile again. The house is coming together. Since we have the motorhome to live in, we are not rushing the purchase of furniture, etc for the house. With holiday visits to family members in other places, maybe by mid-January things will be in "normal" livable condition.

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THUS ENDS OUR FULLTIME RV ADVENTURE
We moved into our motorhome in June 2005, and hit the road in October 2005 following retirement from the Air Force. Six years later, we signed a contract on a house in July, and in October 2011 we began to set up housekeeping again in a "stick house." Fulltiming was a great adventure. In those 6 years we traveled almost 45,000 miles to every corner of the United States, hitting 37 of the 50 states, and many of them more than once. Even though we now have a "stick house" and the accompanying ties to a local community, we plan to continue traveling as we can. Perhaps we will eventually make it to a few of the states we haven't yet covered. Stay tuned as we transition back to "part-time" RVing...

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18 NOV, CLINTON MS -- After getting the house shut down for several week's absence, and getting a higher-than-hoped-for quote from the concrete guy for the slab for the RV cover, we left home about 9:15am ...and thanks to the electricians raising the two power lines and the tree trimmer's work, we used OUR OWN driveway rather the having to back out into the neighboring drive to the East. It is nice to have options ...and an agreeable neighbor ...but it ALSO is nice to be able to use our own driveway! It was a rare experience not to be towing a "toad" as we had left our car in Alabama a few weeks earlier when we drove a rental truck back to Texas with a load of stuff from kid's houses and from a storage facility. We had several RV parks hightlighted on the map across Mississippi for possible overnight stays, and when some plastic trim came loose on one of the outside rear view mirrors about 10 miles West of Clinton MS, Springridge Mobile Home & RV Park became our choice for the night. A few minutes on a ladder effected a temporary fix with some black electrical tape to hold the mirror casing in place. Clinton is a little over half way from our home in our destination in Montgomery AL, so that worked out well. As a combination mobile home/RV parks go, Springridge is above average. Access to the RV sites was decent even though they are more unlevel (front low) than they should be. Utilities worked fine, but were in overall poor repair. The free WIFI worked!! Our cost for the night was $30.

19 NOV-31 DEC, MONTGOMERY AL -- We left Clinton MS just after 9am, stopping a few miles later at the Flying J in Pearl MS for fuel and LP. The card-reader at the RV diesel pumps did not work, so we decided NOT to refuel there as we get a 5% discount when we pay at the pump ...at $3.89 a gallon that is almost 18 cents per gallon. We did have our LP tank filled, taking $65 for apx 16 gallon. About 5 miles down the road we filled with $195 of diesel at a Raceway station where the price was 15 cents per gallon cheaper than Flying J, and we got our 5% discount adding another discount of apx 15 1/2 cents per gallon! Without the car in tow, we are able to refuel at some stations that would be difficult or impossible without disconnecting the "toad". After a stop at the Alabama state line for a sub sandwich lunch, we arrived in Montgomery at 3pm. Just before reaching Capital City RV Park, we stopped for fuel at the Entec station where we bought apx 32 gallon of diesel at $3.79 a gallon, and got our 5% discount on top of that. After we got set up at the RV park, our son picked us to take us to our car at his house. While we were eating with the family that evening, our 14 yr old Maltese dog, Xena, Warrior Princess..., collapsed. She had many health problems, including seizures and an enlarged heart. It appeared that she may have had a light seizure, and her heart simply gave out. Xena was a great traveling companion over the years. She loved to go places, and to meet new people. She was surrounded by love in her final moments. We had a fast six weeks visiting children, grandchildren, and friends in the Montgomery area. Paul made a trip back to Texas in early December by car to "supervise" the pouring of a concrete pad for the new RV cover. We donated the old cover to the local United Methodist Church, and challenged the men's group to get it moved. They got it dismantled over Thanksgiving weekend, so the space was open for the structure ...taller, longer, and with a concrete base. The cover will be erected in January. As usual, we had a great visit in Alabama, and were able to get in a visit to our daughter's home in Atlanta for a few days also. It was a blessed Christmas Season, with great family fellowship. Farewell 2011!

SOME NOTES ON OUR 2011 RVING COSTS ...

Our total RV mileage for 2011 was 4,855 miles ...our lowest since we started Fulltiming in 2005.
- CAMPGROUND COSTS totaled $4,788 (avg per night $12.30) ...this includes 13 nights parking at no cost, and 52 nights in our own "new" backyard (not really at no cost as we do pay the utilities!). We generally avoid any place with "resort" or "KOA" in their name. We did not stay at any military campgrounds this year, not did we overnight at any Walmart, truck stop, etc.
- COST FOR DIESEL FUEL was $2,626.03 with avg cost per gallon of $3.779, and avg 7.01 mpg (includes apx 50 hrs of generator use at up to .5 gallon/hr). Our per mile fuel cost this year was 53.9 cents per mile.
- COST FOR LP GAS was $157.35 (total of 40.3 gallon in two fills of our apx 37 gallon tank). We use LP gas for stovetop cooking, occasional water heater or refrigerator power when electric is not available, to power two LP furnaces (one 35,000 BTU and one 25,000 BTU) when temps are below the point where the heat pumps will work (apx 35 degrees), or if it is cold and we do not have electric "shore power" available. The stove top, refrigerator, and water heater use very little LP, but the two furnaces are LP hogs!!
- MAINTENANCE COSTS for the year were high, totalling $9,518.50. That includes routine chassis service and all repairs, and this year we had to have the ball joints and steering linkage replaced at $5,400 in addition to replacing the three house batteries in August and the two chassis batteries in December at apx $500 all together. We also had the cloth "Banquet sofa" recovered at a cost of $1,338.50. We budget about $300 per month for maintenance, intended to cover the cost of routine maintenance each year and tire replacement every 7 years. Obviously, that didn't cover the bill this year! It is a VERY GOOD idea to have some $$ in reserve for unplanned repairs.
- MOTORHOME INSURANCE for fulltimer coverage runs us apx $1,600/year. That includes full replacement cost in case of accident or fire that "totals" our home. This figure varies widely for fulltimers depending on driving record, credit record, and state of residency. Most RV insurers require "fulltimer" insurance if you live in your RV more than 5 months of the year. We will be keeping fulltimer coverage for at least another year or two.
- TOAD COSTS were primarily for fuel at $2,067 for 13,324 miles ...apx 15.5 cents per mile and avg cost $3.32/gallon. Avg mpg was apx 21.39. Regular service and repair costs totaled $168.21, $120 of which was for a new battery. Although the eleven year old Honda Odyssey has a bit over 180k on the odometer plus apx 46k towed miles, it is still very dependable.




RV TRAVELS SUMMARY TO DATE...
Visited States map

AL, AR, AZ, CO, DE, FL, GA, IA, ID, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MD, MN, MO, MS,
MT, NC, NB, NM, NV, NY, OH, OK, OR, PA, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VA, WA, WV, WY = 37

...Back to last year's travels... -OR- ...On to next year's travels...

back to Our RV Travels... ...... back to Our Retirement Home...
back to The Empty Nest HOME...

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