Monday May 25 Mission, TX
Leaving Day Today
For months we have had the same view to the front, and just as our wheels weren't moving, neither were my fingers moving. Today that all changed, and low and behold, not only did our wheels move, my fingers are also starting to move. Realize they are going to be a little reluctant at first, meaning I've got to get my writing hat back on and it may take several posts, but hopefully the old Bob will be back in a few days. Just call me Rusty Robert.
The view to the front. What can I say, not every RV park is a ten and I wanted a park close to Harlingen where we will have the towbar, braking system and lights installed on the Cherokee. Linda wanted to visit South Padre Island, so we ended up sorta, kinda close to South Padre Island. Oh well, it really isn't that awful far back to where we are going to have the work done. And besides, Linda's now a fairly happy camper. Bob the Compromiser.
As you might guess from the previous paragraph, our trusty, at least at times, Explorer is with us no more. Twenty-two years and a quarter of a million miles old, dripping oil and coolant at an alarming rate, it was time to finally get something new. Linda absolutely loves her new Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk so everyone is happy. A special thanks goes to our good friends John and Judy for this pleasant state of affairs as it was John who first mentioned that a Cherokee looked like it might be the perfect vehicle for us. And it sure is.
The back of our place in Mission where we have been the past winter. It's not tile, it's a sprayed on product that results in an extremely durable surface that looks like tile but has none of its drawbacks. They were still working on it when we left so it will all be new to us when we return this fall. Colors, tile size, edging design selected by Linda. Beaming approval by Bob.
View to the side. Snowbird park after the birds have returned north for the summer. What can I say, Linda and I were so busy doing all the last minute things before leaving that neither of us took many photos. You know how it goes. Linda: Did you put the ---- away? Bob: No. Linda: Then did you empty the ----? Bob: Not yet. Linda: What good are all the lists I make if you don't do anything on them? Bob: I don't know. Maybe so you'll know what you should yell at me for? Sound of Bob hurrying off to do jobs on list accompanied by vocal threats emanating from his suddenly not so sweet spouse. You'd think that after 47 years of marriage a man would know not to do what Bob just did. Sigh.
No way could I end the day without a food photo. That's the golden rule of RV travel writing, no post is complete unless there is at least one food photo. Pork loin smoked by Bob, fried cabbage and avacodo. That's about as good as a meal can get.
Until tomorrow, thanks for reading, if there is still anyone out there who still follows along. And remember, Life is not a dress rehearsal. Don't be afraid to laugh, love and retire early.
Tuesday May 26 San Benito, TX
A Making Some Progress Day
This is the sight that greeted me this morning. Linda said she couldn't sleep, so she got up extra, extra early. I saw this and decided not being able to sleep was the least of her problems. And to any readers who might recall the great butt shot controversy of a couple of years ago, this is not considered to be a butt shot, at least in my mind it isn't. Once Linda sees this she may very politely inform me (as only she can do)that this photo falls into the not permitted category. Until then, call me Optimistic Bob
We got the call this morning that all the parts for the Cherokee had arrived. We are having a Blue Ox towbar and SMI Air Force One braking system installed. Dropped the Cherokee off, they are going to install everything on it today, then tomorrow we will take the coach in to finish the job. They gave us a ride back to the RV park, but without a vehicle we won't be able to explore South Padre Island. I'll say Linda understood, but that didn't make her any happier. I'll take her comments to heart and make sure there is a next time over here.
A note on the photos of the Explorer yesterday and the Cherokee in today's Daily Journal. They were taken back in the first week in January on the day we said goodbye to the Explorer and picked up the new Cherokee.
One those, I never know what Linda took photos of until I download them, photos. They had originally forgotten to order this, and we were wondering if they really had it this time. Yes they did and Linda has a photo to prove it.
No vehicle? No problem. There is always Facebook. Actually we both spent much of the day working on genealogy, spending our time discovering which records weren't there. Of course that makes the very occasional "find" all the more exciting. No big finds today but there is always tomorrow. Genealogy and optimism are like Siamese Twins.
Before you say anything remember the golden rule of RV travel writing, no post is complete unless there is at least one food photo. If it looks very similar to last night's meal, it's because when something is that good it deserves to be served again. Tonight the pork loin smoked by Bob was topped with apricot preserves. Sautéed carrots with spinach and avocado completed the dish. We may not get to see South Padre Island but the food over here sure is great. Bragging Bob.
The first corollary to the golden rule of RV travel writing (no post is complete unless there is at least one food photo) is there must be between one and three sunset photos each week. This is my first entry in that category this week. Now I can just imagine you are wondering what is he doing? There is no colorful multi-colored glowing sky to be seen. That is why I am the photographer and writer and you are the reader. It takes a great mind to understand that sunset means the sun is no longer there. It is gone, disappeared. If you will look carefully at this photo you will see there is no sun. So just what part of the set in sunset don't you understand. Brilliant Bob.
Along those lines I'll leave you with this quote from author Joseph Monninger. "I've never liked the moment of seeing something beautiful - a sunset, a moose, an elephant - and then raising a camera and trying to capture it for some future moment. That's always struck me as strange."
Wednesday May 27 Kingsville, TX
We Headed North Today
I had been really proud of myself for the posts of the past two days. Remembering all the folders where certain files go, getting the html correct and writing something which was at least semi-coherent. But my winning streak came to a screeching halt this morning. When I checked to see if the Daily Journal had posted correctly this is what I saw. I had forgotten to upload the photos to the server. Bad Bob.
This was the photo that was supposed to be where the blue "What" was showing in the previous photo. Please note this photo is only posted for illustrative purposes only and permission for its inclusion in today's Daily Journal is claimed under the fair use and copyleft act, or something to that effect or affect, whichever is possibly correct.
Remember that non-butt shot butt shot photo I posted in yesterday's Daily Journal. Well, I was so sure it was a non-butt shot butt shot that I had posted it without securing approval from SHE whose b--t was not so prominently positioned in that photo. Upon seeing it, SHE informed me in no uncertain terms that I was never to post another photo of her similar that one. Properly chastised, I dutifully promised HER to never post another picture similar to that one. Being a man of my word, and also wanting to live for a few more years, I'll make sure I never never post another photo similar to that one. Smart Bob.
Ace Auto in Harlingen, Texas in the Rio Grand Valley. Good people who do good work. They are an SMI Braking System listed dealer. We were very pleased with the work they did installing the Blue Ox base plate, Air Force One brake system and the lights hookup.
Gary, the owner, and Adam our mechanic, checking out the best location to install the Air Force One compressor unit. SMI may say this is a unit that can be installed by a motorhome owner, but after watching them work I was sure glad it was a portion of our children's inheritance that was paying for the installation rather than my sweat and also most likely my blood. That was if I could have even figured how to do it. Smart Bob.
Linda in the Ace Auto waiting room. She may not be a wild woman, far from it, but she sure does wear wild shoes. Anyone want to bet on what I'm going to hear from her after making that comment. Well, what can I say. She certainly does wear wild shoes. Of course they are special ones that provide lateral support and have the custom made inserts. And she wonders why I sometimes refer to her as "footie". Considerate Bob.
From the looks of this photo it would appear there is a 568 page manual dealing with how to hook up the Blue Ox towbar and all the connections. We actually did pretty good. Pretty good equating to also good, as in nearly perfect but not quite. We did get everything hooked up correctly, got the Cherokee shifted into neutral for towing, then pulled forward to see if the braking system worked. The only problem was that I had forgotten to release the parking brake on the Cherokee. Linda acting like a runaway windmill got me stop after only moving six inches or so. Almost, but not quite, Perfect Bob.
When Linda explained to me that she took several photos to get one that was just right of the Cherokee behind the coach I knew I had to use this one. It seems there was a garbage can/dumpster alongside the street that kept appearing in the photos she was taking. Finally she took one she was happy with. Am I a nice guy to post her photo or am I a really nice guy for posting it. Like I tell Linda, marry a 10, treat them like a 10 and they'll act like a 10. It simply doesn't get better than this. Very Lucky Linda to have married such a highly rated man. Delusional Bob.
It has been like forever since I had a photo of yours truly driving the coach down the highways and byways of America. I think she who I have been married to for almost a half century could have taken a better photo of me, but having learned a long, long time ago that making such comments only earns me time in Linda's doghouse, I'll say no more. Well Trained Bob.
Our view to the front tonight. Worker's travel trailers to right of us, construction worker's trailers to the left of us, worker's trailers to front of us and construction worker's trailers behind us. We must be in Texas!! And with that, so ends today's Daily Journal. It really is great to back back on the road. We are once again Living the Life we Love.
Post script, or what ever it is called. I have updated our future travels page and written a new homepage article if anyone still reads my rambling thoughts and is interested in our Lives.
Thursday May 28 Livingston, TX
On to Livingston Today
We were driving to Livingston today, but before we left the RV park we installed the KarGard II Deflector we had bought to protect the Cherokee. To quote Linda, "We didn't spend all that money to buy the Cherokee just to have the paint chipped because you didn't think we needed any kind of rock deflector." It is made by Blue Ox and designed to be mounted on the towbar. As we discovered, choosing a device like this isn't all that easy since there are a number of different products out there with different designs to provide towed vehicle protection.
We liked this one because it was permanently mounted, had a system to maintain it in place when making turns, was very easy to both deploy and store when needed, plus it was competitively priced with the other products. We had used a somewhat similar protector made by our friend Mark for trip to Alaska so we knew these types of protectors worked very well. The proof of course will be in the absence of any paint chips on the Cherokee. By fall we should have the answer to that question.
The original route we wanted to take to Livingston had been decided last week. Then this week happened with colossal Texas sized rains falling on the places we had planned to visit, roads still flooded, and the result was our plans, if you could call them that for we had no reservations anywhere, changed. Then before we left this morning we checked the drivetexas website and learned there was a major accident on one the key roads we planned to take and it would be closed until 7 PM tonight. Guess you could say that all this just goes to prove that the adage, those that fail plan, plan to plan to fail, has never been more wrong. Go by the Seat of Your Pants Bob. Pulling Her Hair Out Linda the Planner. (That one almost deserves a, lol, but the Daily Journal never uses lol's so we won't go there, lol.) Tongue in Cheek Bob. Oh yes, the photo is of traffic approaching Houston from the west, since we were going to go around the west side of Houston it was going to be an easy drive.
Didn't I just mention Texas sized rain in the last paragraph? Well guess what fell from the sky just as we were approaching the area where we planned to skirt the Houston traffic. Guess who missed the turn and continued towards downtown Houston, a place where said person said he would never take his his RV after once before driving into the heart of Houston on one of the world's worst expressway (what a misnomer) systems.
World's longest parking lot. World's worst drivers. Over used clichés but the perfect description of traffic and drivers in Houston. How does, brake lights to the right of them, brake lights to the left of them, brake lights to the front of them glowed and lit, horns to the back of them, horns to side of them blared and blasted, sound, because that is exactly what driving through the central area of Houston was like. Next time if Linda even suggests we drive near of Houston I will pull over and tell her to drive. Something tells me Houston will never again be a city we will ever be within 50 miles of. What can I say, I seem to have a mild dislike of driving in Houston. I wonder if you have to be crazy to live there? But then I have several cousins who live there. Does that make me crazy by association? Possibly Crazy Bob.
Arriving at the Escapees Care Center in Livingston we were greeted by the usual Escapee hugs. Then it was time to get situated in our site. Once we pulled up to it, the volunteers who were parked nearby all came out to see who the newest volunteers were. Much later, after having a great time learning about each other, we were situated in our spot for the next month. The temperature was way there, the humidity was even higher, so I went inside the coach for break before finishing the hookups. That was when the sticky area in front of the refrigerator morphed into this. "This" being a major mess in the refrigerator.
Note the brown spots in the previous two photos? Somehow the lid came off a pint jar of Linda's special Carolina barbecue sauce, the result of which was Carolina Barbecue sauce over everything in the refrigerator. We are talking major cleanup here, as in all shelves and drawers out of the refrigerator and vinegar, sugar, pepper and spices barbecue gunk all over everything, including some that managed to find its way into the freezer.
Linda had been telling me for months that she couldn't get the produce drawers out of the refrigerator to clean them. Well guess what happened after the great barbecue spill of 2015? I managed to find a way to remove all the drawers. The refrigerator was returned to former nearly pristine condition and Linda was happy young lady. Life just doesn't get better than this. Ecstatic Bob.
Friday May 29 Livingston, TX
A Happy Linda Day
In the realm of the mundane, we had our Care Center volunteer orientation meeting today. Of course the scintillating personality of our volunteer coordinator, Crystal, made it anything but mundane, but that is a story for another day. Mostly refresher, the remainder was refreshing as it seemed they changed the areas that desperately needed changing when we were last here and the changes were definitely for the better. This time we will actually get days off where they are actually days off. We are both happy campers and really looking forward to the next month.
So what about the photo of the mail truck? One of the greatest joys in Linda's life has been to get the mail. Obviously she had a getting the mail deprived childhood, but she had a get the mail six days a week marriage. At least she did before we ran off to the fulltime Life. But Livingston and the Escapee's Park is home. It is where our mailing address is. That means this afternoon we walked over to the mail window, Linda gave them the magic six digits, the six digits being our box number, and soon the young lady returned with a bundle of mail.
I don't have a photo of Linda receiving the mail, stupid me as I forgot to take a photo, but she was excited as a teenager on her first date with a college senior. That is, if my memory serves me correct. Cradle Robber Bob.
But back to what the photo means. The Escapee's mail center is reportedly the largest mail forwarding operation the country. I don't know if that is correct or not, but the fact that everyday a semi load of mail is delivered in the morning and a semi load of mail leaves in the afternoon says it is huge. (You can probably guess I forgot to take any photos today when I write so much on a photo of the back of a truck.) Bad Bob. And truth be told, it was Linda who took this photo. I was even worse than I let on. Really Bad Bob.
The real reason Linda captured my heart nearly a half century ago. And no, just because she is holding a dish drainer in this photo it wasn't because she loved doing the dishes. It is the smile. The giga-billion watt smile that lights up any room she is in almost as much as it lights up my heart. The real story however is the cause of that smile which is the dish drainer she is holding.
RV kitchens are not like homes with acres of counter space. A better analogy would be they are like the counters in an aircraft restroom. Its there but there just isn't much to it. Doing the dishes is the easy part. Finding a dish drainer that fits in the space beside the sink, doesn't get water everywhere but where you want it, and is easy to store is a near impossibility.
We had only been fulltiming a few months when another customer in an RV store saw Linda looking at dish drainers. He showed her one and said it was the only one to buy. She did and it eventually was worn out but as luck would have it three years ago when we volunteered at the Care Center we found one just like on the share table. Today was, as Yogi would say, deja vu all over again. There was another one on the table. The smile says it all. Linda now has a spare should her current one break. That's why the giga-watt smile. Most women want jewelry or meals in expensive restaurants or the like. The woman I married gets ecstatic over a dish drainer. How did I ever get so lucky?
The Escapee's Care Center. Just to let you know, we will never post any photos of the residents of the Care Center. Over the next four weeks we will be telling you more about the Care Center, but for now, it has been a long day and it time to say good night. But of course me being Bob there is one minor aside, but it speaks volumes for how appreciated our efforts are by the residents. One resident provides free high speed internet to the volunteers. On the other hand, we could never thank the residents enough for the joy they add to our lives from merely knowing them. More later on the familiar faces we see and the sadness we feel for the ones that are no longer with us.
It is appropriate to end the day with a quote form author, educator, and clergyman, Henry Jackson van Dyke. "Some people are so afraid to die that they never begin to live." Virtually every resident here at the Care Center lived the fulltime Life until the decided to hang up the keys. Some day this will be Linda and I, but before that day occurs, we will have lived our dream just as they did.
Saturday May 30 Livingston, TX
A Training Day
It was our first of two shadowing (training) days at the Escapee's Care Center. But first a word of explanation. There will never be any photos that include the residents during the month we are here. This is their home and we respect their privacy.
But back at our home Red was happy in his watery home and I can take photos of him because whenever I ask him if it okay to take his photo he never says no. He is a growing boy as he has doubled, or maybe even tripled in size since we brought him home. At times he eats so much I think he is going to explode. The biggest problem is getting him to hold still long enough to take his photo. No matter how many times I tell him to hold still so I can get a good photo, he always moves when I point the camera at him. Could it be that he is merely copying what I do when Linda asks me to do something? Maybe I should rename him Bad Red.
Before I go any further let me say I am simply flabbergasted at how smart the residents at the Care Center are. While I am having a problem remembering any of their names, everyone of them always calls me Bob. It's really unbelievable how sharp they are.
But enough of that. Her I am flunking the eating utensil wrapping exam. I thought we were supposed to take a knife, fork and spoon and roll a napkin around them. Not so according to Linda, who I suspect got a Masters Degree in EUW, i.e., Eating Utensil Wrapping, sometime in the past. Come to think of it, she was in school when we met, so maybe that was what she was studying. Baffled Bob.
As far as the science of wrapping was concerned, I discovered it wasn't. What it was was an art with adjustments made by look and feel. It was quickly ascertained by she who was attempting to teach me that my skill set in that area was sadly lacking. How was I to know the napkin had to be turned in right manner to begin with, one tip pointing directly away from me. Then the knife had to be laid on the napkin, exactly in its center from left to right, with the end of the cutting section a quarter inch below the tip of the napkin.
Next the fork was laid on the knife, the tips of the tines 1/2 to 3/8ths of an inch below the tip of the knife. Finally a spoon was to be placed precisely on top of the fork. Of course every time I let go the fork to get a spoon from the spoon container the fork slide off the knife. It took a while but eventually I was able to position the spoon correctly on the fork with the fork positioned correctly on the knife. The next step was to fold the left side of the napkin over towards the right so the two tips of the napkin lined up perfectly.
The above folding was to accomplished in one deft move, but my tips never seemed to line up, forcing me to attempt the fold once again, but not without the knife, fork and spoon coming unstacked on occasion. After a while I did get it correct. That meant it was time the fold the excess napkin at the bottom up towards the top. That was assuming all the stacking, restacking, folding and refolding hadn't caused said three utensils to become so disoriented spatially as to have no excess napkin left to fold.
Once the above was accomplished Ms. Perfectionist's satisfaction, the entire pile was rotated to the right, rolling everything into a nice neat cylinder which was then placed upright in the proper container. If it all sounds difficult let me tell you it far harder than it sounds. The result was that I was only able to properly wrap just a few sets while Linda did dozens of them. I felt very bad that Linda had to do almost all of them I while contributed very little. Bob the EUW Dimwit.
Based on the above I think the following Mark Twain quote is quite appropriate: "Everything has its limit - iron ore cannot be educated into gold."
Sunday May 31 Livingston, TX
Another Training Day
The meal at noon on Sunday is always special at Care. Today was no exception as you can see. Ham and lots of it, dressing, sweet potatoes, rice with broccoli and cheese, fresh salad, and dessert. The jalapenas are extra, but something I always get. The number of people eating approximately doubles for this meal. By volunteering at Care we get our RV site and three meals a day. The only thing we pay for is our electric. We don't volunteer here because of that, but it is a nice perk. If you'd like to know more, here is the link to volunteering at Care. Plus you can also use the link find out find more about Care itself.
Before you come to the conclusion that Linda did the dishes while I took photos, let me point out that when I took the camera out of my pocket to take this photo she immediately jumped in to do my job. It seems the dishwasher woke up this morning with a bad rash on his back and called to say he would be coming in. Our position for the day was defined as being floaters, meaning we were to help out wherever needed. And help we did. And we had a lot of fun doing it.
The last time we were here at Care, Linda really enjoyed helping out with the serving line and tonight found her back at it once again. That million dollar smile would make anyone's day brighter and how better to share it than with the residents here at Care. Awesome Linda. Thankful Bob.
Disclaimer: This is not a Bad Bob photo. And contrary to what Linda said about me not pointing to the guacamole spilled all over my shirt, I was pointing at what I wanted to point to. Please note that I am pointing at a section of tortilla that is hanging down at an odd angle. That is where the tortilla broke, causing the green stain that you can see on my Bob shirt. Why is it that I can say over and over, "It wasn't my fault," only to have Linda roll her eyes and say, "Then why does something always happen to you?"
Maybe I'm jinxed or something. All I know is that if I wear a white shirt when I am eating I WILL spill something on it. Someday Ms. Perfect Eater is going to drop a spec of food on her clothes and you can best believe I will NEVER let her forget it. What can I say other than, Delusional Bob.
I think I'll skip the quote of the day today since the only quote I could come up with was this one from Phil Spector: "Love is an obsessive delusion that is cured by marriage," and I don't think I want to go there. Completely, Totally, Irrevocably Delusional Bob.