Saturday, September 29, 2012

My first day as a Texan

Left Brain trying to figure out how we'd tow it
I woke this morning as a Southern Belle and felt an urge to cook and bake.  It seems becoming a Texan has opened up the domestic goddess in me.  So the first thing I planned on was trying a new banana date bread recipe I had found that features a brown sugar and cinnamon crumble on top – YUM!  But alas, I had no cinnamon.  So after cleaning up the kitchen from the mess I had already made I jumped in the Honda and boot scooting boogied my way to HEB. 

Left Brain looked a bit shocked when I said I’d be home to fix lunch; not so much that I’d be fixing lunch but it was only 9:30 when I left.  I had other plans in addition to the grocery run and took along my computer. 

church tower with textures added
Driving down the main drag I noted where the HEB was and pulled around and into the McDonalds McCafe.  The first thing I did was try to locate a free wi-fi using my Wi-Fi Ranger.  Duh!  This does me no good here as it’s mounted on top of See-More, our RV.  So I just used their free wi-fi.  Gotta love McDonalds for that.  I only stayed long enough to post the blog for the day and then headed over to HEB.

It didn’t take long before I was leaving with my tiny purchases in my hand and then set off to explore.  I needed another check register for my checkbook but there were no banks of my kind in town, so I pulled into the first bank I saw and sauntered in.  I chose the youngest clerk there who had to be pulled away from a conversation to wait on me, figuring she’d ask the fewer question.  When asked for a couple of check registers she just said “sure” and handed them over.  I thanked her and left and she resumed her chat with her friend.

Then I spied a library!  Again I pulled over and scooted inside to get myself a new Texas library card.  This involved a $5 fee (cash only) and I found it charming that they still used an old card catalog system, but offered internet services.  It was the use of internet that I really wanted, so this was perfect.  My application was completed using an index card and pencil and handled very smoothly by Marian the Librarian.  I half expected to see Opie come around the corner. 

She had the card right there and I expected her to hand it to me but she said they’d mail it to me.  Huh?  When I questioned this she simply smiled and said “it’s our policy” and I knew there’d be no further discussion on the matter.  But she was friend and knowledgeable so I asked where the Visitors Center was so I could become more familiar with my new town.

an old crumbling wall with textures added
She gave explicit directions included drawing a map on the countertop with her pencil which she then erased.  I thought perhaps she’d rip off the top of the desk for me to use as a guide.  I was to head back towards Wal-Mart and turn between the Whataburger and the pond and then it loops around.  The Chamber of Commerce was across the street from the Catfish King Café.  Okay, got it.

I retraced my steps back the way I had come, towards Wal-Mart, and sure enough…there was Whataburger and a pond.  I pulled into the lane between the two and found myself going the wrong way on the drive through for Whataburger.  Luckily there were no cars coming and I escaped without any arrests, honking horns or dirty looks.  Perhaps this is a strange southern initiation ceremony?

I tried the next exit and this took me back on Hwy 59 heading north.  As I passed the Catfish King Café I noticed there was a Chamber of Commerce on the other side of the highway.  I had to continue north until I could do a U-turn and get back on the highway heading south, but I got there safely.

When entering the Chamber of Commerce I was greeted by a young lady and I explained I was new in town and wanted to get some local information.  She told me very politely that as soon as she finished her text message she’d be right with me.  So, left to my own devices I started to wander through the sparse materials on Livingston. 

tower with textures added
After she was done with her texting, she came over and started handing me all kinds of generic materials.  She inquired if I was looking for anything in particular.  I said I’d like to know where the local cinema was.  My fears were confirmed when she said they only had one and it only showed one movie at a time.  But if I wanted to rent movies her brother happened to own the only video rental store in town and she launched into a sales pitch for his business, of which I had no interest at all.

Then just to be mean I asked her where the local synagogue was and watched the wheels turning in her head.  She was helpful in pointing out many temples in the area, but they seemed to be of the Baptist variety.  When I explained this was for a Jewish service she said I’d probably have to drive into Houston for that. That seemed to stump her so I thanked her for her time, took my gatherings and turned back to the car with a smile on my face. 

tower before textures
When I returned I morphed into cooking woman.  I like to do as much cooking as possible when the AC is running as it just makes life easier.  So I started frying the potatoes for our lunch and tucked the bread into the oven.  After adding some bacon to the potatoes I scooped them out to drain the grease and used the hot bacon grease to sear the chuck roast for Sunday.

While the potatoes were frying I cut and cleaned the peppers and chopped them up with some onion for the stuffed pepper soup.  I also chopped the onion, carrots, celery and pickles for the German pot roast for Sunday.  This was about the time Left Brain was overwhelmed with the onion smell and had to go outside.  Wow, my head just really be stuffed up, this isn’t bothering me at all.

When the potatoes and onions were ready I tossed in some chopped green chilis and added some eggs to the top.   After these set up a bit I added some sharp cheddar cheese and put the lid on to finish it up.  Just as we were ready to eat the bread came out of the oven looking glorious, so I set it to cool in the pan while we ate.  I served the potatoes, bacon, eggs & cheese with some salsa and called it huevos rancheros.  After our lunch the bread was cool enough to cut so we each had the heel of it.

This might be my favorite banana bread yet!  I added some chopped dates and walnuts to it and it has this brown sugar & cinnamon crumble on the top.  I’m thinking next time I’ll add some cranberries into it for color and see what that does.  Now that I’m over my fear of making banana bread I just can’t seem to stop.  It’s so easy to dump fun things into it and see how it turns out.

After lunch Left Brain went in search of a liquor store in his quest for brandy.  It seems the south doesn’t have an abundant supply of this like in Wisconsin.  There seems to be a shortage of lefse also, but I can life without that.  While he was gone I fried up the hamburger and peppers for the stuffed pepper soup and the hamburger and onions for the Italian stuffed shells.  It looks like I’m not going to have to do much the next few days other than assemble stuff into the crock pot and sit back and read a book.

Well, the kitchen work is done.  I’m gonna go read outside for a while and let the meat cool down for storage in the fridge for later.  You take care, y’all.

Long Live the Queen of Southern Cooking

Friday, September 28, 2012

Well, it’s been a long and expensive day today, but we are now officially Texans.

We both took turns this morning running around on the scooter to see the whole facility here at Rainbow’s End – it’s huge.  I’m looking forward to the tour on Tuesday to see all of it and learn more about what they do here.

First we had to wait until 1:00 for the mail delivery to see if my Wisconsin Driver’s license arrived with the motorcycle endorsement on it.  It was in our mail batch and we headed off on our journey with every conceivable document in hand.

For the vehicle inspection we need to unhook everything so all three vehicles were separate.  Then we had to show proof of insurance with the Declarations of Insurance for each vehicle, and a driver’s license.  This cost was $46.50 for the three pieces of paper that we needed to proceed to the next step.  No credit cards accepted – check or cash only.

The next step was to register our vehicles and get Texas license plates.  For this we needed to show proof of insurance again as well as the titles to the vehicles and the driver’s licenses, as well as completing the necessary forms, or course.  This went pretty smoothly and after a while we had our new license plates in hand.  Then we filled out the next set of forms to register to vote.  The cost to register the three vehicles was $585.25.  No credit cards accepted – check or cash only.

Back into the car and down the road a mile to the Driver’s License office.  To anyone back home complaining about visiting the La Crosse DMV – you ain’t seen nuttin’ yet!  This office is a small two room facility with two people behind the counter doing it all.  There are small wooden school chairs with the side desk area to do the paperwork and two computer stations for taking the written tests.

There is no number system, you pick up the forms, fill them out and stand in a line to assure your proper place.  The vision test is performed right there as well as capturing your thumbprints.  After the paperwork is done you pay up and have your photo taken right there.  My cost was $40 and Left Brain’s was $76 as he has a commercial driver’s license.  No credit cards accepted – cash or check only. This took about an hour to complete.

We did a Texas high five in the parking lot and headed off to Wal-Mart for groceries as Texans.  It felt good to get home and into the air conditioned comfort of our RV. 

Tomorrow he’ll put the license plates on all the vehicles and we’ll blend right in.  Now I just need to find one of those t-shirts that say “Don’t Mess with Texas”.  I was hoping they’d give us one after completing all this, but I guess you need to buy your own.  Maybe a nice cowboy hat and some boots later on too.  It’s too hot to wear them right now anyway.

Tonight is the excitement of going through all the mail – mostly bills and junk, but it’s still fun when you only get it once a month.

Long Live the Queen of Texas, ya’ll

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Deep in the heart of Texas

After a good night of sleep and a hot shower we bid farewell to the Cajun Cowboy Motel and RV Park and headed into Livingston.  All we have to do is follow Hwy 259 straight in, a piece of cake.  At least that’s what I thought. 
Nope.  It appeared that our Magellan GPS wanted to save us a few miles with a couple of shortcuts.  Now you need to understand that we travel with a GPS on the dash, a print out of Streets and Trips, an open large atlas and my phone navigation app.  You’d think a person couldn’t go wrong.  Well, think again. 

Okay, let me correct myself, we weren’t actually lost…we just took a short cut.  I had just started to think about how harrowing the roads seemed the other day and how thankful I was to be back on a highway.  I know following the scenic back roads sounds fun and romantic, but not when you’re big and heavy, tall and over 50 feet long.  It’s not fun at all…at least for me.  Left Brain seemed to be enjoying the hell outta himself and that just added to my angst. 

We went from Marigold Street to Verbena Street and finally ended up on Snap Dragon Street.  This was no casual walk through the friggin’ garden, let me tell you!  These were one lane roads with slopes to the side that would surely tip us over, laced with potholes and bumps and crowned with a wonderful arch of low hanging branches.  It would be a fun trip in a car, especially a convertible, but not so much in a motorhome. 

As we rounded one corner two huge vicious black dogs came charging out of the yard with teeth gleaming and jaws snapping.  I’m sure we were the biggest thing they had ever had the thrill of chasing, being the only idiots in an RV to attempt this road.   

The next corner presented us with a stunned old woman sitting on the porch who seemed to be mouthing the words “Shut the front door!”  It was when I started to hear the music from Deliverance that I really got nervous.  If we met someone on this road I’m not sure what would happen.  There was no possible way for two vehicles to pass each other.  I could just picture a pickup truck full of Billy Bob’s and Bubba’s with guns in the back window at any moment. 

We finally did emerge safely from the corridors of Hell and started to search out a place to have lunch.  Stopping for lunch in a car is such an easy thing.  You see something that looks interesting, pull over, park and go in to eat.  When you’re a large vehicle towing another vehicle you tend to choose your eating establishments based on the size of the parking lot and whether or not the entrance is steep or has large dips.  This eliminates a lot of fun places and we’ve learned that any kind of Mall is our best friend.  You can park easier and walk to something that offers nourishment. 

This is where we found ourselves parked by a Big K and walking across a busy highway to the Red Lobster on the other side.  As we did our walk around inspection of the rig and tow vehicle this is where we realized that we lost the windshield for the scooter.  I can imagine two black beasts on Snap Dragon Road playing tug of war with it about now.  We’re not going back for it.  I do love the Quick Pick lunch Red Lobster has to offer of the Jambalaya.  It did seem much hotter down here than back in Wisconsin, I soon lost feeling in the roof of my mouth and my nose started to run.  It was so good. 

Finally we reached our destination – our new home town of Livingston TX.  The first thing we did was stop at one of the vehicle inspection places to get all three vehicles inspected.  This involves a physical inspection of each as well as seeing the Declaration of Insurance to make sure you have enough coverage on each of them.  Then they put a sticker on the car showing it has passed inspection and a form to take to the vehicle registration.  Our first step in becoming Texans is complete. 

We then went and set up at Rainbow Park to stay for we don’t know how long.  It felt so good to put the jacks down (yes, they still work beautifully) and do a full set up with the rugs and chairs and everything.  Oh to be off the road and not rolling for a while is bliss. 

After enjoying a hot shower and the AC we settled in to watch a little TV now that we can.  The Wi-Fi Ranger failed to find any signal so we have to use the Sprint Hot Spot and it’s a pretty slow connection.  But we’ll deal with it.  I spotted our new friends Jerry and Sandy parked across the way from us, but we were too tired to go say hello yet.  There’ll be time for that tomorrow.

Long Live the Queen of Texas



Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Double post today

It was an uneventful day, but it seemed like such a long one.  Left Brain did all the driving, so I don't know why I'm so tired, but I am.  We left the repair facility Tuesday morning and wound our way down through Arkansas and Oklahoma on our way to our new home state.

On the way down I tried a home remedy for cleaning the black water tank by adding Dawn dish liquid into the toilet.  While you drive the water sloshes around and cleans things up.  And with the bouncing around we gave it, it should have worked very well.  We thought we were doing quite well until while stopped for some road work a man came running up and said our scooter was about to fall off the back of the car. Oh no!  Not Harley Worth-it, my scooter!

Left Brain ran out to make the necessary adjustments and we were again on our way.  This is where I realized that I should have measured the one third of a cup Dawn (they did warn me about this).  It seems that the bubbles come out the vent pipe on the top of the RV if you add too much and well, I wanted to be sure I had enough so I gave it a little extra squirt...just a little one.  We must have looked like the RV for Lawrence Welk as we frothed and spewed suds and bubbles out the top of our RV.

We just crossed over the border into Texas when we found this lovely little facility called The Cajun Cowboy Motel and RV Park.  Use your imagination here because I'm not getting into details.  Most of the rigs parked here are men working on some pipeline so I'm glad it's mid week and not on the weekend.

But we have a pull through site (no need to unhook the car) with full hook ups and 50 amp service so we can run the air conditioner. We put it on immediately as it is hot here and extremely humid.  A nice hot shower will feel good tonight to prepare for tomorrow when we should arrive at Livingston.

The jacks go up and down when asked to, the toilet holds water, the satellite TV is working and this blog is brought to you by my Wi-Fi Ranger. Life is good.

Tonight we'll read up on how to become Texans and get ready for what ever we need to do.  

There are two posts today to get me caught up.  I'm hoping with my Wi-Fi Ranger I will have good internet coverage from here on and can post daily without any problems.

Long Live the Queen of Cajun Cowboys

If Sunday’s news of not being overweight was good news…then Monday was approaching nirvana!  We woke early, well…Left Brain did.  Then he woke me to get up and get rolling.  It was barely after 7:00 am and our appointment was at 8:00 am.  Did I mention we were parked next door?  But he’s a smart one he is, he wanted to be sure we were first in for our morning appointment, and we were.

We went through the check list of what we wanted fixed at the service counter after everyone arrived and caffeinated up.  At the top of the list was fixing the jacks, definitely Numero Uno on our priority hit list.  Then we added the refrigerator recall, the leaky seal on the toilet, the air cleaner on the engine, the battery being drained every time we towed the car, installing the WiFi Ranger, adjusting the pressure in the tires and did they know anything about satellite TV.  They happened to have one DISH tailgater kit in stock yet and after obtaining the price on it we headed out for breakfast as they wouldn’t need our car until later on in the day. 

After placing our order we both scoured the internet with our phones to confirm the best prices on the satellite kit and their price was as good as anyone else’s we agreed that we would take it also.  So they added that to the list of things “to do”.  After finishing up our breakfast we headed back to the service center to wait for all the repair work to be done.  Thankfully we are both good readers and can entertain ourselves for hours and hours with a good book.  And we did.

Thankfully they had a man on staff who had experience with the same battery drainage issue we were having.  It seems the 2012 Honda is  notorious for this problem.  He had done a similar repair for someone else and agreed to tackle this issue.  It felt so good to be in exactly the right place to get everything done at one time.  These guys have a great sense of humor and enjoy kidding with each other during the day, but are professional in every way in their workmanship.

Later on in the day they called us into the inner sanctum to show us a couple of things and ask questions as to where to mount stuff.  I am so glad we purchased the DISH satellite kit then and there as we thought it was just a matter of plugging it in and go, but nay nay…it required some installation.  As we entered the garage area there was a muscular scary looking pit bull.  I wasn’t sure whether to pet him or try to remain calm and hope to not be attacked.  I wondered if he was the patrol dog during the night.  Later on I got my courage up and asked if I could pet him.  I was assured that “yup…he’d sure like that”.  And he did.  When I did my signature ear massage I thought he was going to purr and fall asleep on his feet.  But as soon as anyone new entered the area he was tense, alert and on the move.  I wouldn’t want to be on the wrong side of him, that’s for sure.

We wrapped up about 4:00 and we were exhausted.  I’m not sure why, we pretty much sat around and read.  I did get a call into the Divine Miss M and we chatted for a good long while…maybe that’s what did it.  Or perhaps it was the $1750.00 bill that sapped our strength.  Oh well.  It needed to be done and was done all at one time in one day, with free camping to boot!  They added some water to our fresh water tank for the night and Left Brain moseyed back to the back lot for our overnight stay.  We wanted to be sure that everything was okay before going too far.  I headed off to Wal-Mart for some vittles.  Oh my G-d.  I’m starting to talk Southern.

When I returned to Seymour I could see all four jacks down on the ground and things looked good.  There was a little white box on the ground behind him so I was hoping the satellite was up and running.  Left Brain had been a busy boy while I was out hunting for food, setting up the RV and going online to set up our DISH account.  We gazed in wonder as the menu of all the channels scrolled before our eyes.  It was like two starving people stumbling across an all you can eat buffet.  Not to mention it’s time for Monday Night Football.    It’s so nice to see the Green Bay Packers running across the TV screen again.  Well, I don’t personally care, but it makes my man happy and that makes me happy.

I started to tackle the WiFi Ranger but decided I just didn’t have the oomph in me to deal with anything more tonight.  I’d rather sit down and write a spell….rats!  I did it again.  The South is starting to seep into my pores.  It must have been the grits and biscuits and gravy at breakfast.  So instead I fixed up a mess of chili.   Sigh.  I might as well just resign myself to this new language and stop fighting it. 

We’re both doing our favorite thing – I’m writing my blog and he’s yelling at the Packers on TV and waving the remote around in his hand.   Just for fun I filled the toilet bowl with water and checked it about a half an hour later – it was still holding water.  You have no idea how much that pleased me.  I know, that sounded kinda scary to me too. The refrigerator recall had already been fixed by the previous owner, so that was a non- issue.  We won’t know about the battery draining down until we are several miles away, so we can only hope.

If you are ever passing through Arkansas and need help with your RV; just stop and see the guys at McGraugh Service Center in Springdale AR and they’ll take good care of you.

Long Live the Queen of Nirvana Arkansas, y’all

Monday, September 24, 2012

On the road to Arkansas

Sunday morning we packed up and headed over to the dreaded scales to learn our fate!  But we were pleasantly surprised to find out we are not overweight at all.  Well, WE are, but Seymour and Baxter (the car) are just fine.  This was a shocker as I envisioned having to part with many books and things – what a relief!

Doing this weighing process finds the weight for each side and front and back so things can be balanced to the most optimum for the tires.  They said that the passenger front side could be heavier to balance out and I offered to run immediately to a bakery and take care of that problem, but Left Brain seems to think we should stay on track for losing our excess weight.  Oh well.

Prior to our departure on Saturday I decided to move the boxed food from the overhead bins to the drawer under the bench seat and put the glass bowls for reheating stuff up above.  This did seem to allow for more space and is working nicely.  Okay….I admit it…I just like to move things around.

On the way into Arkansas we spotted a farm that was raising camels.  Unfortunately I wasn’t prepared for this and didn’t get a photo, and it’s too hard to stop Seymour once he gets rolling down the road.  And what rolling roads they were!

The roads are narrow and have absolutely no shoulders at all with a downward slope that would certainly flip us over easily.  We led the parade down this up and down highway with about 40 motorcycles riding behind us.  

There had been a huge HOG rally in Sedalia the night before we left.  We’ve never seen so many bikes in one spot in our lives.

Along the road I had to chuckle at a gas station proudly proclaiming itself the D and C Service Center.  I’m sure it’s named for somebody but all I could envision was women with female problems up there on the hoist getting serviced. Hmmm.  Perhaps that wasn’t the choice of words I was looking for, and then again…maybe it was.

The road kill as we go south gets more and more interesting.  Sure, there’s the usual carcass of deer, dogs, cats, raccoons and possums, but they have armadillos down here.  Now there’s a strange looking creature.  It reminds me of a possum dressed up as a medieval knight for Halloween.

And of course there was the ubiquitous dead skunk in the middle of the road.  This just starts us to singing the song with special emphasis on the “stinking to high heaven” part.  I've inserted the melody so you can sing along.

We are at the RV service center and they have an area with electricity for us to live in the rig before our appointment at 8:00 tomorrow morning.  We should have water but it appears to be turned off, oh well.

Long Live the Queen

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Reflections of Escapade

poster edges filter applied to this photo
I've finally found the time to work on the photos I'd taken here and there during the rally.  They are in no particular order.

This first photo is one of Left Brain waiting patiently for me while I was running around with the camera.

He is very patient although I'm sure he thinks I'm a bit "touched" as I stop the car to photograph an old run down crumbling building or the side of a brick wall.  I like to use these for various backgrounds and textures for filter overlays.

We had a pet parade and there were many dogs of several different breeds.  

But this one from SKP Chapter called The Mexican Connection caught my eye.  The parade was only about 10 minutes long so he didn't have to carry it very far.

I used the magic lasso to capture the dog and his "rider" and then inverted the selection and used the impressionist brush to blur out all the mess of people and other dogs standing behind him.

During the first ever Chili Cookoff the Mexican Connection had a booth for their chili tasting and I liked the sombrero and serape she was wearing.  

So I used the magic extractor to capture her and then placed the other background behind her.

It gives a more dramatic view than all the other people milling about.  I just love playing with my Photoshop Elements and cleaning up those backgrounds.

Our neighbors have two beautiful Irish setters named Clancy and Kelly.  I'm not sure which one this is, but I managed to catch him during a yawn.  I think it makes it look like he's laughing and can picture him saying "what happens at the rally...stays at the rally"

I left the grass but removed the background beyond that and replaced it with one of my sky photos.  I cloned out the leash so he appears to be free and loose.

Perhaps he's telling doggy limericks...he is Irish ya know!

This photo is just a boring old photo straight out of the camera but it gives you an idea what lunch time looks like.  

This is only a fraction of the people here.

We had 574 RV's at the rally so that equates to over 1000 people attending.

There was this cute little yellow....uhm, I'm not sure what to call it really.  It had a volkswagon engine in the back and many men were drooling over it.  I guess no matter how old men get they are still little boys inside.

Well that's it for tonight.  The car is attached to Seymour and we're ready to roll out for our weigh in and then head towards Arkansas.  Since there won't be any time to post to the blog tomorrow, I'm adding this one in its place.

I'll let you know later how much weight we need to lose - both Seymour and both of us.

Long Live the Queen of the Escapade


As the calendar turned one more page to the first day of Fall the temperature dipped downwards and it's nippy this morning.  Time to dip out the snuggly warm sweats and find some slippers.

While we were chatting with the neighbors last night it struck me how odd it is to talk about after the rally is over going forward to the next place.  For so many years we had always ventured out to explore new places and returned "back home".  Now that home is where we park it, we're always going forward.  Hmm. That must be why there's no rear-view mirror on our windshield.

We continue our exploration of the best method of obtaining TV while on the road.  Our first thought had been to go with Direct-TV as our son has this and it seemed to be the best way.  Now we're not so sure.  Their plan seems to only have options for East or West.  The local news is obtainable where your address is, which is where we don't actually live.  We can obtain a waiver proving that we are on the move continually and chose either the East or West side of the county.

As we explore Dish TV it is looking like it may be better for us to buy the tailgater satellite dish that would just hook into the cable box and allow us to position it where we'd get the best reception.  It would certainly be simpler than trying to find someone qualified to professionally install it.  The salespeople we've talked with are all smiles until we explain our living situation and then they have no idea how to respond and seem overly happy to watch us leave the store.

Installing a satellite dish on the house and positioning it once is fine, but when your house bounces down the road and is parked under trees, in the middle of the desert, down in a valley, up on a can get complicated in a hurry.  It would be easier to pick up a small dish than to move Seymour into the right position for reception.

Our excitement for today involves finding a laundry mat and reading while we wash our clothes and using up our gift certificate for some BBQ in Sedalia.  Perhaps we'll wander into historic downtown Sedalia for a spell also.  It would be nice to see the famous brothel at least.

Tonight I'll do a clean up of the rig to get ready for our departure and then after the Weigh In we'll head for the repair facility to fix the jacks.  It's amazing how they do the Weigh In and I'll get some photos of that and let you know how we came out.  It's important to know what the rig weighs front and back as well as side to side to make sure you are not putting undue stress on the tires.  But more on that later.

I'm going to post this quickly as we still have use of the wireless internet provided.

Long Live the Forward Queen

Friday, September 21, 2012

The end of Escapade

Well, the Escapade Rally is officially over now and I've been watching many big rigs lining up to be weighed on the way out.  Our turn for weighing will come on Sunday morning when we leave, as we have opted to spend an extra couple of days here to rest and relax.  Speaking of relaxing..I had a great massage in one of the RVs this morning.

Left Brain is up on the roof trying to figure out how to install the Wi-Fi Ranger and I cleaned the toilet gasket last night.  It's still not holding water and looks like it will need to be replaced.  Bummer. We both decided these jobs are beyond our abilities and will have someone else make the repairs.

We went into town to use one of our gift certificates.  It was well....forgettable.  But it was free and our bellies were full so I guess we can't complain...but I think I just did anyway.

We've cleaned the ceiling fans and drained and cleaned the hot water heater.  The car is packed and tomorrow we'll run into town and do the laundry.  While we're out we'll use the other gift certificate for some BBQ.

Our neighbors came over and chatted a bit, they're staying until Sunday also.  We had 754 RV's here during the rally and it's looking pretty empty now as many of them have left today.

I'm not sure how long the internet will continue here after today, so it may be a bit before my next post unless my hot spot works.  If nothing else there is a Panera close by - that's a good excuse to go to Panera for lunch.

Long Live the Queen of Preparation

We are Boomers

The Escapees RV Club has many special interest groups called Birds of a Feather or BOF's for short.  There is a nudist version of this called Birds Without Feathers that I think sounds adorable, but probably won't be joining anytime soon.

I've just written out my check to join The Boomers which represent people born from 1946 to 1962.  There's no real set requirements to join...they'll take just about anyone, so we're good.  I did the enrollment online and they request you to send an email with "the check is in the mail" so they can give you access to the online newsletters.

We met this group at a happy hour last night and they are delightful people.  It was enjoyable sharing their stories and learning from many of them who have been full-timing for a long time.  

This is a fun loving group that plans many outings, one of which we are very curious about.  Apparently mid January they head for Quartzite AZ for a two week stay out in the middle of the desert.  At first this didn't sound like fun to us but as we've talked to more and more people we're becoming very curious.  Apparently they organize many mini-adventures with varied interests.  So, we plan to join them this year as the dates work out for us.  We'll either want to do it year after year or never at all, but that's part of our new life..going places we've never been and trying any and all new experiences.

We're shaping up our plans for the kids visit.  After the parents leave we'll hold them hostage for a few more days and then Pete will fly back with them as they are a bit hesitant to do this alone.  This is great because after having a lot of "together time" it will be nice to be totally alone for a few days.

During this rally we have gathered a good deal of information on things to visit and see on our way towards Arizona.  I just love the Southwest and it will be a blast to finally be able to travel along leisurely and stop to enjoy the sights without hurrying through them to get to the next one.

Long Live the Boomer Queen

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Wednesday Post

Geocaching seems to be the latest craze.  Or as one friend has described it "I've never spent so much time or money to search in the woods for a tupperware container full of junk"...or had so much fun.

The seminar on Geocaching 101 gave a brief overview and there was a lot of discussion on the subject.  I do believe this is something Left Brain and I will enjoy doing.  I'll be checking out the website more tomorrow and setting up our account and we'll do an entry level into this sport using our smart phones at first.  Then if we absolutely love it we'll look into the other equipment needed for it.  Just what we needed...another place to dump money!

In a nut shell you are using GPS coordinates to locate a hidden stash that could be fairly large like an ammo box or as tiny as a metal tag.  The metal tags are called "bugs" and have an etched image of a bug on them.  These you take with you to be hidden in a new location for the next person to find.  One lady has one of these currently moving around in Paris as they can easily be worldwide.

We've just begun to scratch the surface of this fast growing sport and can't wait to get started.  But first we need to take care of several "household" things.

Left Brain installed the vent pipe over the tank outlets to help with the odor problem and I learned in my class about other ways to deal with this.  One thing that seemed crucial was to use plenty of water when flushing.  It's sad to say that neither of us realized you could ADD water by using your toe to lift up the foot lever first and then step on it to flush.  I was seriously looking into replacing the toilet because this one just didn't seem to be flushing properly.  Sheesh! 

It's a good thing I learned this today because he had been back at the RV trying to clean out a nasty clogged toilet.  I'll do my part of the project tomorrow now that I'm armed with new knowledge and equipment.

I ran into Walmart for groceries and found an item called "zippit" that works for pulling gunk and stuff out of the drains as well as a small, flat drain snake.  I've never been so excited to clean the toilet in my life.  I also picked up a box of surgical gloves to aid in this production.

I also bought a thing to clean out the hot water tank and a new zinc rod to replace the other one that's probably getting pretty cruddy.

Due to the nature of the tires in the RV world they have a much shorter life span, five to seven years at the most.  We were taught how to read the code on the tires to know what week of what year they were made in and ours were in 2006. The RV is a 2007 model but the tires were already aging before it rolled off the showroom floor for the previous owners.  So we are probably looking at new tires by next year also.  These are specialty tires and more expensive than on a there are six of them.  We'll have to work that into the 2013 budget.

He also installed the motion detector light over the front door that will come on when there's movement.  This is nice because we never seem to remember to leave the light on for our return.

Thanks again to his efforts the car now has new wiring that should assist in not running down the battery each time we haul it.  That will certainly make life much nicer!

AND, he managed to find a service dealer in Arkansas that already has the parts we need to fix the jacks and we have an appointment for Monday morning.  It will be really nice to have those working again.

Tomorrow he'll go talk to the WiFi Ranger people again about how to install the router we purchased.  Right now we have decent internet, but when the rally is over we'll lose all that capability.  I sure hope this is a good solution to the internet problem.  It is supposed to be able to find free hot spots up to three miles away and boost the signal into the RV.

The fire extinguishers we bought should be charged up and ready for pick up tomorrow as well.  Left Brain put up the new one in the "great room" area (aka most of the RV) and moved the other one to the bedroom.  Plus he opened the emergency window in the bedroom to be sure that was operational. 

Each day we are making more and more progress into this new life of ours.  I feel like a modern day pioneer getting ready to start on our westward journey in the wagon train. 

Long Live the Queen


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Tuesday at the Escapade

It feels like it should be Thursday or Friday already, our butts are dragging.  So we slept in this morning and skipped the seminar on smart phones, broadbands and air cards.  It sounded like of like a repeat of the other day.  That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.

This morning we'll head over to learn about Geo-caching for beginners and then meet some of the Chapters and learn what rallies might be going on in the Arizona area this winter.  We've already been invited to the ones in Quartzite where they dry camp for two weeks in the desert and have a two day happy hour.  Hmmmm?  I guess it's really something to behold as the desert fills up with big rigs and comes alive.  We'll see.

My seminar at 1:30 is on Controlling Holding Tank Odors.  I want to learn how to do this without chemicals  At 3:00 we'll go to the Woulda Coulda Shoulda seminar and learn all the things RV'ers wish they had known from the start.

I enjoyed the comment from one of my followers that they had no idea it was this much work.  It appears that full timers just toss their clothes in the rig and go off smiling into the sunset.  Oh, if it were just that easy!  There's a lot of things you need to be mindful of for safety reasons....more than I ever dreamed.

Tonight is an off night and we're glad for the rest!

Long Live the Queen of Information Overload

Jokes I've overheard while at the rally

On Monday we went shopping.  We'd done our homework, knew what we needed and hit the vendor booth.  Our purchases were a set of four fire extinguishers, some high temp sticky back tape, a LED motion detector to replace the light over the front door, some 303 silicone spray, and the best WiFi Ranger kit they had available.  We spent an obscene amount of money, especially for the last purchase.  Oh little did we know what was in our future!

I want to the seminar on android phones and learned about some more apps I need to find.  I've already downloaded the camping and RV app to find campgrounds, dump stations and everyone's personal favorite - the Walmart parking lots available.  

After resting up a bit later that afternoon (these seminars are really draining our brains) we went over for the 7:00 gathering where the door prizes are given out and to wait for that evenings entertainment.  We finally hooked up with Dave & Vicki McKenna, a couple that Shari & Jack have been trying to hook us up with.  This is where I found out they've never even met Shari & Jack!  They were just responding to a request to the Boomers (one of the Birds of a Feather groups) to welcome us.  Everybody is so friendly here - there's nothing like being surrounded by fellow Escapees.

Lo and behold Left Brain won a Wi-Fi Ranger (the less expensive model), but all was well when the man sitting behind us offered $200 to buy it from us.  Later that night I won a BBQ apron and two gift certificates for local restaurants, so we'll be doing a bit of dining out. 

We listened to Wayne Dwyer perform and were amazed at the quality of his lovely tenor voice as he performed many Broadway tunes, many featuring the work of Sir Andrew Lloyd Weber.  Then we walked back home to stumble into bed.  We're doing a lot of walking each day instead of taking the car, so hopefully this is burning off a few calories during this week's seminars.

Here are a couple of jokes I've heard while down here I need to share with you.

Papa Bear and Mama Bear were in the midst of a divorce, sad but true.  Something about Goldilocks, but I didn't get all the details.  Anyway, I digress.  There was a custody battle over Baby Bear and they asked him which parent he wanted to live with.  He replied that since both of them beat him severely when he was bad, he wanted to live with his aunts in Chicago.

The judge asked him why he wasn't concerned about his aunts also beating him when he misbehaved and he responded with "Oh no, Judge.  That would NEVER happen. You see, the Chicago Bears never beat anybody!"

I apologize to any Chicago Bears fans that I've offended.

The second one went like this:

There were three blondes out for a walk in the country and they came across some tracks.  The first blonde looked down and declared them to be deer tracks.  The second blonde knelt down and sniffed them and said, no they were moose tracks.  The third blonde put her hand upon them and said she had to disagree they were certainly elk tracks.  While they were in a heated debate about who was right the train came and hit them.

I apologize to any blondes I've offended...provided they understood the joke.  Ooops, I did it again.

Long Live the Queen of Jokes

Monday, September 17, 2012

I've always been known to lean a bit more to the left, as my Republican friends can attest.  But now we're really leaning to the left!  It seems that the rain has affected the wheels on the left side and they are sinking into the ground a bit more each day.  The right side has leveling blocks under the wheels, so they are not as affected.  We'd raise up the left side with the jacks if we had the use of them.  I'll be so happy when that's fixed!

Another thing I've noticed is how a person will watch whatever they can on television.  We are currently pulling in one channel here and it's really strange.  The news seems to be broadcast from India with lots of reports on what's happening in Bollywood.  And if that isn't odd enough, Left Brain has started to follow a series broadcast in Swedish with English subtitles.  He seems to be really getting into this and staying up late at night to follow the program.  I'm not saying he'll be fluent in Swedish by the time we leave Missouri, but he should be very handy the next time we shop at Ikea!

Today's line features all the techno geek things I've been waiting for!  Later this morning I will attend the "Staying on the Internet" seminar, followed by "computer safety and security" and this afternoon it's the Geeks on Tour presentation on smart phones.  Then I should be ready to make those decisions on the WiFi Ranger and perhaps it will answer our satellite questions.  Tonight's entertainment is the George Dyer show from Branson.  He is acclaimed to be one of the finest tenors in the world and this should be another excellent performance.

We had planned to stop in Branson on our way to Texas to claim our domicile but with the leveling jacks problem we may have to skip that.  Branson has so many things I love from the shopping outlet malls, the Butterfly Pavilion where you can walk among beautiful butterflies from around the world, not to mention all the incredible talent to see.  It's not just country music as many think, but you can find that also.  The food is inexpensive, the countryside beautiful.  

I'm hoping to visit the Cirque du Solei theater for a performance as I've never seen them yet.  Each time we go we try something new.  It's worth it just to visit the ladies room in Sochi Tabuchi's theater.  It is the most ornate bathroom you'll ever see.  I've not been in the men's room but I hear it features a full size pool table.  He is one of the best violin players you can ever hope to see and he always features young talent from around the world.

The thing I love the most about Branson is the family talent, many of the acts feature families and very young talent.  I remember a seven year old boy playing the fiddle that just blew me away!  And all the acts are clean, you will never hear any swearing or dirty jokes, so it's completely safe for any age to attend any show.  Okay, enough of my advertising for Branson...I got kind of excited there for a minute.  I just remember how I didn't want to go the first time because I don't care for country music and was so surprised by the variety of entertainment.

Well, it's time to go shopping again before the first seminar starts so I gotta go get ready for the day.

Long Live the Slightly Off Level Queen