We drove from NAC to Baytown on the eastern side of Houston in a steady rain, a hard driving rain at times and pretty much into the wind the whole way. It is about a three hour drive mostly on four lane divided roads. It had been raining on and off for several days and the road sides were very soft. We saw two semis off the road and stuck hard in the muck. The rain stopped about 2/3 of the way down.
Rudy and Carolyn are full timers whose home base is on the side of a man-made lake at their friend Ralph’s place. He has several acres along the side of the lake and let Rudy and Carolyn put in a concrete pad with a steel framed cover over it down at one end. It is big enough for their coach, two cars and a storage shed. They have water, electric, a sewer hookup and DirecTV. It is quite nice. Ralph has a coach that rarely leaves its heated and air conditioned 60 x 40 ft coach house. There is a nice laundry room and bathroom and plenty of room for the things Ralph likes to collect like old gas station pumps and fire hydrants. There is about 20 ft of covered space at the end of the barn where the big garage doors are. There is also a 50 amp electric hookup, water and waste hookups too. It was not raining when we got there but Ralph insisted we pull in under the cover because more rain was on the way. The Jeep fit under the cover as well. We got electricity hooked up, added some water to the fresh water tank and settled in for a visit.
The next day I caught up on some work stuff, we did laundry, washed the coach and the Jeep, Carolyn’s car got washed too.
Rudy was off in the morning doing an AquaHot service call. This usually consists of replacing the diesel fuel filter, the nozzle that sprays the fuel into the burner chamber, cleaning out the burner chamber and the flame sensor and setting the gap on the spark starter. It takes Rudy and hour. It takes me about two. And he does several a week during the late fall and winter season. Sometimes there are other issues that he fixes like pumps, control circuits, relays, internal thermostats, motor bearings, clutches, fuel pumps and more. He is a whiz at diagnosing issues and getting them fixed. It is a good source of income for them.
We went out for dinner that evening to an Olive Garden because we had a gift card and so did Rudy and Carolyn. Dinner was good. I had a Bolognese sauce on pasta something or other. I have always liked Bolognese sauce but rarely make it any more. Susan had a Braised beef with gorgonzola and Alfredo sauce. We all had salad and bread too. We took half of our dinners home with us.
The following day was sunny so we all got into Carolyn’s car and headed to Galveston. It is about an hour and a half drive but we mostly went the back way not the interstate so we got to see all of the stuff along the back way. We saw two giant container ports, lots of areas that were flooded during last winter’s Hurricane Harvey and lots more damaged and rebuilt areas from Hurricane Ike (2008). Harvey was mostly rain, 49″ where Rudy and Carolyn live. Ike was very high storm surge.
It is just hard to imagine that much water anywhere. There is a car race track near Rudy’s place where there were more than 46,000 flood damaged cars. They get a salvage title and get resold to unsuspecting folks somewhere else.
In Galveston we stopped to see the Elissa, a late 1800’s iron hulled, three masted sailing ship that has been restored. It now is at the Texas Seaport Museum in Galveston Harbor. It visited Galveston a couple times in the early 1900s and as a real part of Galveston’s maritime history it was rescued from the scrap yards in Greece. A repair team made it seaworthy enough to tow the 205 ft ship back to Galveston to complete the restoration back to her original form. Today the Elsissa is a National Historic Landmark. Her main mast towers nearly 100 ft above the water line.
We wanted to see the Elissa in part because Susan’s sister Nancy was on the crew when it sailed from Galveston to New York City in 1986 for the Tall Ships Celebration of the renovation of the Statue of Liberty.
She was the cook on this cruise in a pretty small kitchen.
Today the Elissa is maintained by a large crew of volunteers and trains crews in the ways of sailing a classic square rigged ship. Just learning what ropes were for what and the names of all the sails takes weeks. At least once a year the Elissa sets sail for sea trials and training in the Gulf of Mexico.
We had a nice visit, toured the ship, went through the museum and of course the gift shop.
We had a very tasty lunch at a restaurant just down the street.
And then further down The Strand to an ice cream and chocolate shop. We got some of both. It was nice to have tour guides like Rudy and Carolyn who know how to get around and where to park.
Rudy had a fellow named Gus as a person-in-training for Aqua Hot repair. Gus had been to the AH school and now had to get some hands on experience. Gus goes along with Rudy and does most of the hands on stuff while Rudy helps him learn the diagnostic process. Gus lives up near Lubbock, originally from Uruguay. His wife was along too and they were staying in a nearby RV park. Gus told me that coming to Houston was the furthest they had ever been in their motorhome.
One morning Rudy and Gus dismantled the guts of an AH right down to the bearings in the motor and put it all back together. After they were done we all piled into Carolyn’s car (all except Susan) and we went to a TX tradition, Whataburger. It is definitely not McDonalds, way better. I had a massive mushroom and swiss burger. Very tasty.
That evening we went to a small BBQ place. It was the size of an old fashioned small gas station because it once was. Ordered at the counter and they brought it out. It was different from the BBQ that we are used to but quite good. Nothing came home for leftovers.
I helped Rudy with a new small laptop for his coach and tried to get his printer to connect to his wifi, it would and then get lost, over and over. We fixed a louvered door in Ralph’s coach that had been damaged. We reglued it and added a couple screws for good measure.
As is always the case there seems like there were a few things we didn’t get to but mostly we just had a very nice visit with Rudy and Carolyn. They are good friends and we are glad to know them.
Next we head north(ish) about 80 miles to Onalaska, TX on the shore of Lake Livingston. We will be there for about three weeks.
Roger and Susan