Waco TX, March 2018

I have to admit that we both like Fixer Upper on HGTV. Chip and Joanna Gaines started this show five or six years ago in the seemingly sleepy town of Waco TX. You could buy houses and property cheap and with an “all in” budget of way more than that they would transform what often seemed like dumps into a palace any of us would love.

Waco is far enough north in TX to get ice storms in the winter and even some snow and several months in the summer where 100° days are pretty common. Four months have average high temps over 90°. There have been as many as 44 days in a year over 100°. So March was a pretty good time to visit, it was warm and windy and dusty and only an hour and twenty minute drive from our campground.

First stop the Visitor’s Center where we learned Waco is bigger than we thought and it is the home of Baylor University. Probably a lot more too but we were on a magnolia mission. There was all of the ordinary Texas memorabilia and a wooden cutout of Chip and Joanna. It might have been shiplap, I forgot to look. We were surprised that if this was life sized then they were much shorter than we expected.

Right next door was the Texas Ranger Museum.

Lots of guns and hats and guns and saddles and guns and other stuff. The Texas Rangers are still in operation as a state police force.

Back to ChipLap. Fixer Upper is all about Magnolia. They had a construction and realty business before TV and a development named Magnolia as we have heard.

Their presence in town is around the Silos.

A bit rustier than we were expecting, but there always has to be room for something to fix up.

There was a gigantic building next to it that was the heart of the commercialized Fixer Upper world.

30,000 visitors a day at this time of the year. And they all went in this building to look at the stuff for sale. A lot of stuff for sale.

There was a big open area with artificial grass and things for the kiddos to do, food trucks to get something to eat, a seed and garden store where you could buy more stuff (even seeds) and a stage area where every once in a while there must have been some entertainment.

Joanna’s cupcake shop was off to the right with a very long line at 11 AM and just as long a line at 3. We didn’t stand in line.

There was a very nice Fixer Uppered 53 Willys Station Wagon.

This was in very good restored condition.

We ate at a local place, we were trying to find Chip’s new breakfast place that was just about to open but couldn’t.

And then back to Georgetown the back roads way. It was a nice drive along a hilly county road mostly. Much more enjoyable than the interstate.

It was fun to visit, probably about what we expected. We thought there might be more about the TV show and some of the projects but in order to protect privacy there is no list or addresses of any of the homes they did. There were no maps showing all of the sites. Probably just as well or some of these older neighborhoods would have had a steady parade of cars driving down their street every day.

More later,

Roger and Susan

Jim Hogg COE Campground, Georgetown TX, March 2018

We drove across the northern part of the Texas Hill country from Onalaska (a small town) to Georgetown (a bigger town). We went around the top of Georgetown to Lake Georgetown which is behind a dam on the North Fork of the San Gabriel River just north and west of Georgetown. It is an Army Corps of Engineers dam. As is often the case there are campgrounds (3) and boat launch ramps on the lake. It is a much smaller lake than Lake Livingston and looking at the shoreline the water level is down quite a bit from normal.

We stayed at the Jim Hogg campground which is up on a short bluff above the lake. There were paths down to the lake. Across the lake was the Cedar Breaks campground and further up the lake was the tents only Russell Park campground. We drove over to the Cedar Breaks CG and it had some nice waterfront sites. It appeared to have more trees around the campsites which we thought would be OK especially since it is on side of the lake where most of the wind comes from. And there was a lot of wind.

Even though it was cloudy on several days it really only rained once . Most days were sunny, windy and comfortable. Depending on the wind direction some days were low humidity and some high. Big swings.

Evenings were very nice.

A coolant leak!

When we got to Jim Hogg we noticed some coolant leaking. After we backed in I stuck a bucket under the point where it was leaking. After a while when things cooled off I crawled under and could see a bit of coolant leaking from a short 2-1/2″ diameter hose. When I started poking at it coolant would spray out. There definitely was a soft spot in the hose but no hole. Pretty obvious on the onside.

I called Coach-Net which is a help provider for RV owners. I told them what was going on and they offered to have the coach transported to Austin for repairs. I said I just needed someone to come to where we were and replace the rubber hose (which we got at a local O’Reillys Auto Parts store in Georgetown) and fill it up with the appropriate coolant.

They sent out a fellow from Austin (an hour and a half away) the next morning. He brought 4 gallons of coolant even though I told him on the phone before he came that it could take up to 16 gallons. He got the old hose off and the new hose on without any difficulty – he did get quite dirty though. And then put in four gallons of coolant. Not enough. So off he went to get more. 6 gallons. All of that went in and we were still not up to the top of the coolant tank. I had one gallon so we poured almost all of that in and it got to the top. We started up the engine and let it idle for a while. There was a small drip so we shut it off and he adjusted a hose clamp, wiped everything clean and I started up again. We let it idle for about 20 minutes, no more leaks. He was there for almost 4 hrs including his trip to the store to get more coolant. He charged me $160 for the coolant and 1-1/2 hrs of labor at $75 per. Coach-Net pays for the travel time and service call charges. A very good plan for us. After a short drive and then a hundred and fifty miles we are still good.

Bike Rides

After riding quite a bit at Lake Livingston we were surprised at how much work the hills at Jim Hogg were. There are some significant hills, some long hills and heading away from the lake it is mostly up hill. So a complete loop through both of the campground loops and out to the main entrance and back twice was a bit of a ride. After a few of those we seemed to get ourselves used to it. And then we set out on the road from the campground.

There were a couple side streets with houses. The roads went in a bit and then seemed to drop downhill out of sight. We followed on a road to the right into a neighborhood of substantial homes. All stone and brick on large lots. We quickly discovered that these streets too all led downhill which meant uphill was to follow. A few of these hills were pretty steep. Back out to the main road into the camp ground and a bit further on we found a big wall on either side of the street and a sign that said “The Woods”. We rode down that street past a lot of homes of a more moderate size on pretty good sized lots, an acre or more. The funny thing was that all of these lots were grass waiting to be mowed and very few trees. We twisted and wound our way through “The Woods” and finally ended up back at the road into the campground at another sign proclaiming “The Woods”.

We got back to the campground a bit sore in the butts. It was almost 10 miles. We did this ride several more times and discovered that the grocery store was only another quarter mile so we went there for treats and even lunch one day. Somehow I have no pictures of us. But we saw a bunch of interesting campers.

These folks were reliving their school days.

Our friends, John and Caroline were wondering about a Casita or Burro. These are small and very compact. Duck going through the door, maybe stand up right down the center where the roof has a hump in it.

And this Airstream trailer was shorter than the pickup truck pulling it around. But very nice as Airstreams are. John could stand up in this one.


It looks to us in our unscientific survey of several campgrounds that the most common pickups are now 4×4 short box four door models. The only two door models you see are really old ones. And Fords outnumbered Chevy, GMC, RAM and all the others combined by more than 4 to 1.

And while fifth wheel campers are very popular just about everywhere, down here in Texas towable trailers seem much more popular than in other areas and almost equaled the number of fifth wheels. Texas has lots of RV destinations, lots of COE parks, great State Parks and many private parks. A days drive and the scenery and climate can be completely different and they still speak Texan.

I better get this posted, internet access has been a bit iffy.

More later,

Roger and Susan