More Heading West, January, 2019

We split the drive from Kerrville, TX to Deming, NM into two chunks. We thought about going to Davis Mountains State Park near Fort Davis and then up to the nearby McDonald Observatory. It was an extra 2,000 ft elevation increase and a winding twisting road. Maybe next time. We thought about stopping in Ft Stockton but that left a long second day. So we headed to Van Horn a ways west of where I 10 and I 20 come together.

Van Horn has earned a bad reputation about not being friendly to RVs stopping on their streets. I am not sure why. There are several RV parks and they seemed just fine. Nothing special about the overnight or the park but they had a small cafe/pizza place in the park. We saw several folks bringing pizza boxes back to their RV. We did not.

The next morning we got fuel, about 50 gallons. We normally run between 90 and 150 gallons when driving across country. The coach holds 194 gallons. I don’t see much sense in carrying around an extra 400 lbs of fuel.

On to Deming, NM. West on I 10 is long and not much to look at.

About the same all the way.

Except where the entire west bound lanes get diverted through an immigration check point. We waited our turn, drove up past dozens of cameras where they saw we were from Minnesota and that we were older white people. They just waved us through.

To get to Deming we have to go through or around El Paso, TX. We have been through El Paso several times. There is almost always construction, congestion, delays and lots of traffic. So instead of taking I 10 through El Paso we went around.

It was a bit longer but about the same time and a much easier drive.

Shortly past El Paso we arrived in New Mexico. I 10 follows the Rio Grand River up towards Las Cruces and between I 10 and the river there are immense farms growing hay and almost as large cattle feed lots. Everything looks and feels different to us as we get into New Mexico. It is very familiar, very comfortable and somehow different.

Another hour and a half or so to Deming. We stayed at an Escapees Campground named Dreamcatchers. We have been here before, an easy place to stop. There is a motel next door with a pretty good restaurant where we ate an early supper one day.

We drove the Jeep Cherokee north one day to Silver City. It was about 80 miles. We had heard it was a nice place to visit. Along the way we stopped at City of Rocks State Park. It was pretty interesting. It is old volcanic ash and rock formation. Most of the surrounding area has long ago eroded but the particular area was harder and is still here.

There were trails all over to follow through the rocks.

The rocks covered an area about a half mile long by a quarter mile wide.

There was a small camping area with electric hookups and lots of campsites all over for just about every type of camper. Almost all of the sites were full. Another popular New Mexico State Park. Most we have seen have been someplace we would stay. Electric sites are $14/night. Out of state campers can buy an annual camping pass for $240. Unlimited camping for a year. Electric sites cost $4 extra per night. Pretty inexpensive.

Silver City turned out to be a long drive to an uninspiring destination. It is an old mining town. There is still very large open pit copper mines nearby. This is big scale mining where they also find some silver and gold but mostly copper. Huge mountains of tailings, huge pipelines moving used water into large man made lakes of used (contaminated) water.

Not much there to get us to return.

We went to The Deming Luna Mimbres Museum. http://www.lunacountyhistoricalsociety.com. We have been here a couple times before, worth the stop.

I spent some time looking at art work. There are some amazing pieces here.

These are all local artists.

This one reminded me of a Gustave Baumann wood block print.

One of the volunteers at the museum told us she grew up in the Deming area and knew where this Texaco Station was. She said it was gone but the small building behind is still there.

They have an expanding military exhibit area that goes all the way back to the mid 1800s through the present. Much more now from the Vietnam era.

Next stop is Tucson, AZ.

More later, Much Love.

Roger and Susan

More West, January, 2019

We have several days to get to Justin’s Diamond J RV Park near Tucson so we are taking our time.

Canyon Lake COE.

We stopped at Canyon Lake Corp of Engineers park north of New Braunfels, TX in the hill country. We have been here before, COE parks are nice and for seniors with a geezer pass, cheap.

View from the front window.

A very nice site.

A fellow with whom I used to fly Radio Control planes back in the 1980s lives somewhere around here and we thought we could look him up. It turned out he is about 2 hrs east of here so that wasn’t going to work.

The next day we headed to Kerrville, TX for a two night stop.

The Kerrville-Schreiner city park on the Guadalupe River is a good stop. We had plenty of time to get to Tucson so we thought a couple days here would be good.

There seemed to be another visitor from up north visiting as well.

The next day, January 29th, was Our 44th Anniversary. So we drove south to Camp Verde for lunch at the Camp Verde General Store and Restaurant.

This was an Army Post in the late 1850s. Its claim to fame was the attempt to bring camels to Texas to be transport animals for the Army. It didn’t work out so well. Today it is an event center, general store, Post Office, amazing kitchen store and a fine restaurant.

44 years. Wonderful!

We had a great lunch, brought enough home for supper. After lunch we spent some time shopping in the kitchen store and general store.

Susan found one of these holsters for whatever you put in it. It is silicone and just hangs there on its own. We got a new vegetable peeler, some napkins and a few other things. The whole store seems to have things we haven’t seen in other stores. There were some signs I liked.

A good anniversary message. Put your own picture at the top.

We are heading towards Deming, NM next with one stop along the way. It is a long way across Texas.

More later, Much Love,

Roger and Susan

Heading West, January, 2019

Time to leave Onalaska. Next stop is Baytown, TX where Rudy and Carolyn live.

But first we had blueberries to use so we made pancakes like we get at the North Pole Cafe at home and then a bunch of normal sized ones to freeze for later.

Blueberries are the main ingredient in blueberry pancakes. So more blueberries than pancake.

Rudy and Carolyn’s

We have been to Rudy and Carolyn’s before. They have a very nice RV site on a lake at their friend Ralph’s place. We stay in front of Ralph’s RV barn. Susan and Carolyn went shopping and to the grocery store. We did laundry, washed the Jeep and a bunch of other stuff that it was convenient to do here.

I did some trim work for Carolyn where their cabinets meet the floor. They are not square corners but round. There were seven corners to trim so I made eight curved trim pieces before we left with enough on each leg to trim to fit.

Once they were finished they matched the sample Rudy had sent.

Once installed they looked pretty good.

I went with Rudy on three Aqua Hot service calls. Rudy is an Aqua Hot Specialist (he had to go to school and hands on training) and is pretty busy at this time of the year. He started this after he retired and it keeps him busy.

We went to a really nice place with a big house, RV barns and horse barns.

Rudy gets into it, really into it sometimes. Rudy fits into these places much better than I would.

Much of what he does is basic service but a big part of what he does is diagnostic. Something doesn’t work, there are lots of possibilities, what needs fixing and how to fix it.

It is always fun to tag along, learning from Rudy. And sometimes actually help. We needed to fix a blown fuse at one stop, a round tubular glass fuse used for in-line fuses. Rudy didn’t have the right kind. We went to a hardware store and they didn’t have one either. So the fix was a normal automotive fuse in and automotive fuse holder spliced in where the old in-line fuse holder was. Perfect.

We replace two bearings in our AquaHot. They were a bit noisy. Rudy did most of the work, I helped. If they ever need replacing again I can do it myself after seeing how it was done.

We went to the Monument Inn for a late lunch one afternoon. Bill Blackmon and Pete and Diana (his neighbors) joined us. Lunch was wonderful, I had blackened redfish, Susan had a Cajun shrimp pasta. The Monument Inn is right on the Houston Ship Channel. Ships went by while we enjoyed our lunch.

Later that day some other Foretravel owners, Keith and Jo, stopped by for a visit. It is always fun to meet new folks.

A beautiful sunset to end the day and our visit.

Next stop is Canyon Lake COE and then on to Kerrville.

More later, Much Love,

Roger and Susan

PS. Bill let me know a couple days ago that Tom had flown in and the sale of his coach ( mentioned in an earlier blog) was completed. Bill handed the keys to Tom and Tom drove off. Bill is getting his Airstream trailer this week at last word.

A Nice Coach, January, 2019

We heard that our friend Bill was considering selling his coach. He thought it was time for something different and was considering an Airstream trailer. My first thought was about the 4 door 4×4 Ford pickup that he towed. We rode with him one day last winter to a place we were going to see and it was very nice, roomy and comfortable. By the time I asked about it he had already traded it in on a bigger more robust pickup to tow a trailer.

And then we thought about his coach, a 2003 Foretravel, U320, 38ft with a tag axle, a living room slide and a bedroom slide with the bed crosswise in the coach. They call this arrangement an East-West bedroom. His floor plan is actually from 2004 so this is a late 2003 coach and one of perhaps five total with this floor plan. The tag axle increases gross weight capacity and stability in cross winds.

We wanted to go see it so we drove over (about 60 miles) to take a look. In TX that is like going to the corner store. Bill is a full timer.

it is an attractive coach, full body paint and very well kept. Bill opened every door and showed us every detail.

Tools and ladders and OH My! He had taken out the big LP tank and replaced the LP gas cook top with an induction cook top. It had a residential refrigerator, a Knoedler air ride drivers seat, MCD shades and more interior upgrades that made very nice looking.

It has a private bath which means the toilet is in its own small room. Bill’s coach also had a second bathroom sink in there and a window and a surprising amount of storage as well.

I had always thought this would seem cramped but it did not. Susan gave it a sit down roominess test and gave it a thumbs up.

The head of the bed is in the BR slide. With the slide out you can walk around the bed. At the back of the coach there are two large closets and a washer/dryer. The wall opposite the slide has cabinets and drawers and a TV that rises up out of the cabinet.

All very nice. Walnut wood interior, tile and carpet floors. It was fun to look at, interesting to think about. We went out and had a nice lunch with Bill to top off the day. In the end we are quite happy with what we have especially considering the work we have done to make it just the way we want it for us. But if there was ever a coach that tempted us to change this was as close as it got.

I thought about this coach. I have been emailing back and forth with a fellow from Colorado for a year or so who was looking for a Foretravel, what to consider, what years, what features, lots of questions, lots to consider. He wanted to store it inside during the winter and the 40 ft ones he considered were too long. So they were looking for a 36′ and after seeing one with a slide, they wanted a slide. I sent him a note and asked if Bill’s coach might work. He said yes so I sent Bill’s contact info to him and his to Bill. The next morning I got an email from Bill, he had sold his coach, and one from Tom, he had bought a coach. Pretty good for both of them.

By now all should be complete. Bill is picking up his new Airstream this week.

I am glad for both and now that it is done there is no second guessing on our part.

More later, Much Love,

Roger and Susan

Onalaska, TX, January, 2019

There really is an Onalaska, TX. And one in Minnesota and one in Wisconsin. That is it for the whole planet.

Onalaska, TX is about an hour and a half south and a bit west from Nacogdoches on Lake Livingston, the second largest lake in Texas. We stayed here last winter for a while. Our friends Douglas and Amanda are staying here for five weeks. We are here for a week.

Lunch

Last year we had a Mushroom and Swiss burger at Whataburger, a Texas institution. It was really good, but immense. The nearby Whataburger sign pulled us right in.

They are still huge so we split one. They are still good, lots of cheese, mushrooms, sauce and flavor. Half of one was enough.

And then on another day we had to go to the Courthouse Whistle Stop Cafe in the town of Livingston for lunch. Rudy and Carolyn drove up from Baytown, TX to meet us.

This is the same bunch that did the South Shore of Lake Superior Expedition, 2016. Amanda is the queen of selfies. Some of our favorite friends.

T Shirts

Amanda always kids me about wearing the same T shirts, ones from the Oregon Zoo, Habitat for Humanity, that is all I have. So this year I added my Keep Craft Alive T shirt (above) , an organization that is helping train people in the homebuilding crafts. That is one of the things I most like about Habitat is the skill building aspect of it, helping others learn how to build better, be more efficient and more productive.

I found a couple more. Some coffee to power me up. And a mug to drink it in.

Treasure!

There is a pretty cool store, Downtown Treasures, right next to the Whistle Stop that has a mix of antiques, collectables and new things for sale. While wandering through I spotted a collection of old Texaco Airplane models. These were all of the old planes that Texaco had used over the years. One caught my eye.

These are die cast metal models with a 10″ wingspan. This one in a nearly perfect original box with the original packaging.

I couldn’t pass it up.

Sunny, Cool and Shady

We had several sunny days here. And some cool nights, some below freezing.

We brought most of the day/night shades with us that we took out of our coach when we put in the MCD shades. Douglas and Amanda wanted them. I spent some time helping them get started putting them in their coach replacing a mix of older shades on some windows and adding them to some windows that didn’t have shades at all. They were quite pleased with the new look for them.

These were new for their bedroom which just had the drapes. I agree, it looks nice.

A Walk in The Park

We drove down to the nearby Lake Livingston State Park one breezy afternoon just to go for a walk.

There were some pretty good waves on the lake. Most of the lake has a retaining wall around the shore. It is pretty much all sand in this area and these prevent erosion. They also make the waves slurping up against them sound bigger than they are. The Park Store was open. We had an ice cream treat.

Next up, a few days at Rudy and Carolyn’s in Baytown, east of Houston.

More later, Much Love,

Roger and Susan

More in NAC, January, 2019

A New Jeep Battery

We had a problem with the Jeep when we stopped at Maumelle COE Park near Little Rock, AR. The battery seemed to be almost dead after a couple days of towing. We put the battery charger (something I normally wouldn’t bring but put it in a bin at the last minute) on it overnight. In the morning it started fine, we hooked it up and went off to Nacogdoches. When we got there the same thing, an almost dead battery.

We charged it up and got over to Motorhomes of Texas for service. One of the service techs asked if we were having trouble and we told him the battery seemed to be toast. Well right next door to MOT is a battery place so we drove over there, they checked it out and declared the 4 year old original battery was at the end of its life. They had a new one, got it put in, did a fine job and all is well once again. I was a bit surprised that new car batteries don’t last very long.

There was a stately looking dog house at the battery place.

Bailey must have been a pretty big dog, this house was almost five feet high.

And it was air conditioned.

IC-37

Foretravel is building a new model coach called an IC-37. It is a 37′-8″ long coach that is more than a foot taller than ours. More headroom and more room in the basement.

They were prepping it to take to the giant RV show in Tampa Florida.

Very nice fit and finish, walnut interior, most of the bells and whistles buyers in the price range ($500K) are looking for. Most of us with older coaches like what we have but in several years these will be available on the used marked for much less. It is a nice compliment to their flagship IH-45s that typically are in the $1.2 million price range.

More Later, Much Love

Roger and Susan

Away Again, January 2019

We winterized the coach early last November. This involves draining out all of the water system and replacing water with a freeze-proof RV antifreeze in all of the plumbing. While the coach sat in the barn for a couple months we ran the generator for a half hour and the AquaHot for about 20 minutes once a month. This is pretty much normal practice to keep things working well.

We also changed the primary and secondary fuel filters and the fuel pre-screen. I ordered spare filters, 2 each of the primary and secondary filters and a spare pre-screen. After our algae in the fuel problem last summer it seemed prudent.

Our trip south went from Hastings to just south of Kansas City, MO. An overnight at a Walmart gives us an opportunity to get last minute supplies and a place for some walking after a pretty long day, about 9 hours. The next day we headed for Maumelle Corps of Engineers Park just west of Little Rock. This was a 7 hour drive down through the Ozarks.

We stayed there two nights to flush out the water system, take on some water and just relax for a day. Chris and Elka Lang came for a visit. They live east of Little Rock and knew we were coming that way. Nice folks, they have a Foretravel too but just for a short while. The weather for this trip south was as good as it could be. Clear, dry roads, sunny, and warmer than normal for the season.

The next morning we headed to Nacogdoches, TX (about 4-1/2 hours) where we had service scheduled at Motorhomes of Texas and Xtreme Paint and Graphics. We stayed at the Foretravel factory campground.

Camp Foretravel. Lots of others here as well.

This red and white IH45 is a 45′ coach and is about 2′ taller than ours. More than 20,000 lbs more too. And about 10 times what we paid for ours.

Our friends Carol and Scott were there when we got there. Mike and Jackie live in Nacogdoches and we went over to their home for dinner to watch Clemson beat Alabama. Don Cox and his brother Randall were there as well.

That evening Amanda and Douglas also arrived in NAC. The next day Rudy and Carolyn drove up from Baytown near Houston and parked at Chappell and Mary Jordan’s RV barn.

The next evening we (along with Rudy and Carolyn, Amanda and Douglas, Carol and Scott, Mike and Jackie) went to Auntie Pasta’s for dinner. It was very good as it always is. Amanda and Douglas came to our coach later and we stayed up too late.

The next day we moved to Motorhomes of Texas where we were getting the oil and filters changed, the engine coolant and filters changed, a couple radiator hoses changed, the chassis lubed and both windshields replaced.

We had Trina, the upholstery specialist at MOT, make us a new wedge shaped pillow and a dash cover. Susan says the pillow is perfect. The dash cover is just what we wanted. It was nice to meet Trina and we appreciate the attention she paid to us to make sure we got just what we wanted.

We went to Chappell and Mary Jordan’s house to meet Rudy and Carolyn for dinner that evening, Chappell smoked a Boston Butt (I had to look it up, it is a pork shoulder most often used for pulled pork). They served it with coleslaw and baked beans and peach iced tea. Mary served a lemon meringue pie for desert along with coffee.

After the windshields were replaced we had to sit for at least a day to let the windshield glue set up. So what else, we went out for lunch at Butcher Boys, excellent hamburgers. Rudy and Carolyn, Mike and Jackie and Don Cox were there too.

That evening Keith Risch came over and “polished” our fuel and cleaned the fuel tank. All of the fuel gets pumped out of the tank, through a set of very fine filters and back into the tank for about a half hour. This cleans the fuel and agitates anything in the tank. Then most of the fuel is pumped out into a holding tank and the remaining fuel and any remaining sludge is pumped out and filtered. Finally the fuel is pumped back into the tank through the filters. The result is clean fuel and a clean tank. This whole process costs about the same as a complete set of filters.

Why does the fuel get contaminated? There is always just a bit of water in the fuel and more can come from condensation. The water sinks to the bottom of the tank and the diesel fuel floats on top of it. In the layer between fuel and water algae will grow and their waste products sink to the bottom of the tank. This is more of an issue in storage tanks at fuel stops where we buy fuel. Most of the time if our tank gets contaminated it is from the places we buy fuel.

On Friday we went with Mike and Jackie and Don and Randall Cox to the Mercantile Cafe for lunch, a local home cooking lunch buffet. It was quite good. That evening we went back over to Mike and Jackie’s for card games. Don Cox joined us as well as Kia, a student and basket ball player at Steven F Austin State University in Nacogdoches. She is from Denmark. We played Quidler and were treated with a home made bread pudding made by Jackie. Texas Blue Bell ice cream too if you wanted it.

Saturday I went to two SFA basketball games. The Lady Jacks played first and won easily. Then the Lumberjacks (men) played and it was a close physical game that they lost by only 2 points. It was fun. Susan went shopping.

Monday we are going to Xtreme for a gel coat touchup from our headlight conversion a few years back. It should only take a short while and then we are off to Lake Livingston.

When we got our coach we had no idea that in addition to the amazing places we would get to visit it was going to be the wonderful new friends we would make along the way. And that that would be the most surprising aspect of this lifestyle. Some of them live here in NAC and other places in TX and the rest are from all over the country. Many are full timers. This whole new diverse and dispersed community has made our lives better, much better. Thank you to all.

More Later, Much Love

Roger and Susan