Thursday, November 27, 2014

Giving Thanks in Myrtle Beach...

Pensacola RV Park
When I last posted we were still in Texas.  We've come a long way since then! We left Beaumont ten days ago and drove and drove...all the way through Louisiana right into Mississippi...spent the night in Gulfport, MS at Campgrounds of the South and continued on through Alabama into Florida.  We stopped for a break at Pensacola RV Park where we'd stayed for five weeks late last winter.  We spent four days recuperating from the long drive before moving on.  Our luck ran out just a little...temps dropped to 27 and our water hose froze, but it thawed quickly with no problem. We were going to travel northeast, but the only possible place to stop was around Auburn, AL and, wouldn't you know, there was a home game that night! Not a single spot available, so we continued east on I-10.  Then the rains began.  We drove in the rain to Lake City and made an overnight stop at Oaks 'N' Pines RV Park.  A second rainy drive through Georgia to Walterboro, SC.  We stopped at New Green Acres RV Park last year and liked it...this year it was drowning.  Our campsite had six inch deep puddles, and it kept raining. Stayed an extra night hoping the rains would stop...they did, only to start up again as we got ready to leave the next morning.  We drove north, out of the rain and arrived in Myrtle Beach day before yesterday. Eleven hundred miles in eight days and we're exhausted...but just in time for Thanksgiving in Myrtle Beach!

Myrtle Beach
Today is Thanksgiving...our second one in the RV...and we've come full circle back to where we were last Thanksgiving...Myrtle Beach, SC. We knew we weren't going to be in Wilmington for Turkey Day and, as I was trying to figure out where we would spend the holiday, I realized we could go to Myrtle Beach. Crazy as the place is, we love Myrtle Beach...oceanfront camping, more miniature golf courses than you can count, the ocean, a pancake house in every block and, did I say ocean?  Pirateland Campground runs a special every Thanksgiving...four nights for $99...and we decided to take advantage of it, even added on an extra week.  We are five campsites back from the ocean and I can hear the sound of the surf every time I open the door or windows.  For me, being by the ocean is truly relaxing.  It's a bit crowded right now, but most everyone will be gone by Monday and we'll have the place to ourselves for the rest of the week.

Thanksgiving has always been a favorite holiday of mine...good food, family, no decorating or wrapping presents, just being thankful for what we have...and as I think about it, I have a lot to be thankful for.  I have a terrific husband and a wonderful family, as well as an awesome new family out in California.  I'm retired and reasonably healthy. I have a life that some people only dream about...traveling around the country, doing what we want, when we want.  The last year has been amazing...I've seen so many things I'd only heard about before now.  We have a comfortable place to live, all the necessities of life and a few luxuries.  Is our life perfect?  No, but if I listed the negatives it would be a pretty short list...the main one being that I can't have my family close to me on this cool journey we are taking.

We will relax this coming week, do some housekeeping, and then go on to Wilmington. It's been six months since I've seen Becca and the kids and I can't wait!  I'm more excited than a kid at Christmas! It's been even longer since I've seen Michael and my brothers...but unfortunately we'll have to wait until snow season is gone to make those visits.

Traveling is is coming home!

Monday, November 17, 2014

You Mean We're Still in Texas?

From Amarillo we drove southwest on 287 and stopped for the night at Wichita Falls RV Park...flat pull-thru, gravel sites long enough that we didn't have to unhitch the truck.  A quick stop, then back on the road in the morning,  We picked up I-20 in Dallas and talked about the things we'd like to stop and see the next time we are in the Grassy Knoll and the Texas Book Depository.  For those of us over a certain age, Dallas will forever be synonymous with the assassination of JFK.

We drove a bit farther and stopped in Tyler, Texas to rest a couple of days.  The 5 Star RV Park is not a 5 star resort, it's a no-frills campground with gravel and grass sites...and they had only one back in site left...but it served the purpose. We had full hook-ups, including cable, for the Passport America rate of $17.50.  Perfect to relax a few days, which we needed.  We arrived on Veteran's Day and, of the many restaurants that offer free meals to veterans, there were three in Tyler...Olive Garden, Applebees and On The Border. Jack's a Viet Nam Veteran and he chose Applebees.  It was a nice break for us and it is always nice to see honor paid to our veterans.

We rested, got caught up on laundry and did some much needed grocery shopping while we were in Tyler.  We encountered a Walmart Neighborhood Market, the second we've seen. They are Walmart grocery stores and so much nicer to shop in than the super WalMarts when all you need is groceries. Hope this is a trend that works its way east.

The Polar Vortex, or whatever has been bringing the unseasonably cold weather across the country, was catching up to us.  It was time to reconfigure our travel plan again as temps along I-20 were getting down to the low 20s and even teens in places.  We experienced frozen pipes and a cracked water pump in Wilmington last winter and don't want to repeat the experience.  We'll wrap our hoses once we get settled in Wilmington this year, but it's hard to do on the road with the constant stopping and going every couple of days.  So...from Tyler we went farther south yet, to Beaumont, Texas and I-10. If we have to go any further south we'll need a boat!

You KNOW we didn't take either exit!
We are at the Hidden Lake RV Park waiting out the rain before we hit the road again. Big, paved, level pull-thru and back in sites with patios, a lake and very friendly owners.  A great quick stop and, once again, $17 with Passport America.  This is first time we've seen rain since mid July...almost forgot what it's like!

What was originally supposed to be a quick drive through the Texas Panhandle has turned into a ten day trek through the state in search of above freezing temps. Our next stop will take us out of Texas...

Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Cadillac Ranch

As we were getting ready to leave Albuquerque and New Mexico, it was getting colder. We looked at the weather forecast, saw temps were getting ready to drop below freezing, and decided that our plan to travel East on I-40 might not be the best idea.  We studied the map and saw we could go one more stop on I-40 to Amarillo, TX, then go southeast and pickup I-20 in Dallas. Sounded like a plan to us.

We got to Amarillo and got settled at the Oasis RV Resort for two nights.  As long as we were going to be in Amarillo, I wanted to check out the Cadillac Ranch.  The Oasis RV Resort is right off I-40 and perfect for a quick stop.  Roomy, paved level sites, good cable, nice grassy areas for Maggie, reasonable rates and only a mile from the Cadillac Ranch.

The Cadillac Ranch is about ten Cadillacs from 1949-1963 buried nose first in the ground. It started out as some form of art expression and has become something of a pop culture icon.  The look is continually changing as the cars have been painted over several times for various reasons...a TV commercial, to mark the death of one of its creators, to commemorate gay pride day...and are a constant work in progress as visitors decorate them with spray paint (bring your own and, no, we didn't).

Very cool!

Tim's Place...

A few years ago, when we were first considering going full time in an RV after retirement, I started a list of places I wanted to visit if we happened to be in the area. Not the major places that everyone wants to Yellowstone or the Grand Canyon...but the small places you might never know about if someone didn't tell you.  One of the first places on my list was Tim's Place, a small restaurant in Albuquerque, NM. I read about it in an online article and it piqued my interest.

We were in Albuquerque last week and visited Tim's Place.  It is a small breakfast and lunch place owned by Tim Harris, a young man with Down's Syndrome.  It had always been his dream to own a restaurant and, with some help, he made that dream come true. 

It is a bright and cheerful place that emphasizes friendship and caring, as well as good food.  We were greeted by Tim himself at the door; he brought us to a table and gave us menus. The servers were efficient and friendly and all wore smiles.  Tim cruised the room, greeting every customer, stopping to chat and posing for photos with those who asked.  When we told him we were from NC, he introduced us to the manager of Tim's Place who is from Charlotte, NC.

He is a friendly, 28 year old man with a graceful presence who has worked hard to accomplish a number of things. There are photos on the walls chronicling his various milestones and awards.  He graduated high school, was voted Homecoming King, left home and attended college, worked in restaurants to learn the business, had interviews in magazines and TV, set up a foundation to help others with intellectual disabilities achieve their dreams and even met the President.  I find him inspiring.

There is a quote over the door to Tim's Place...If you can dream it, you can do it.

Definitely worth a visit if you are in Albuquerque. Oh...and order a sandwich to share, they're way too big for one.

Monday, November 10, 2014

New Mexico, New WiFi, New Phones...

We were going to spend a week in Albuquerque...see the sights...visit Santa Fe, but after the truck repair in Holbrook resulting in a longer stay there, we decided on to just spend a couple of days in Albuquerque and save the sightseeing for our next trip through New Mexico.

I-40 and I-25 Interchange in New Mexico
I was not enthralled with Arizona...except for the obvious, like Vegas and the Grand Canyon. The overall look and feel just doesn't appeal to me...everything is so brown and dry and dusty. New Mexico on the other hand, has a little greenery and just seems fresh. I like it.  Even the Interstate interchanges are pretty...painted blue and adobe.

We stayed at the Hi Desert RV Park.  Flat, open, level spaces with full hook ups except for cable...and poor over the air TV reception.  We don't use things like the bathhouses and laundry and we have our own WiFi, so I don't comment on those things.  My only complaint was our reception.  We had a reservation and arrived a little after three.  The office was locked with a little clock on the door indicating someone would return at 3:45.  I called the office and got only a recording saying to dial my party's extension if i knew it.  it was a very long wait in the sun. A young woman did show up at 3:45 with no explanation...not even a greeting or a "Sorry you had to wait."  I mentioned the wait and she said, somewhat defensively, "I had to pick my child up from school, nothing I could do about it." A reasonable excuse but poor customer service.  A note on the door or at least a "Sorry you had to wait"  would have gone a long way to improving our impression of the place.

We've been getting our WiFi  from Millenicom, a re-seller of Verizon internet at better prices.  They were suddenly and unexpectedly taken over by Verizon and our internet access was going to disappear.  We went to a Verizon store since Jack is already a customer and took advantage of their Double Data promotion going on in October. We changed him to a More Everything plan, got a new Sim card for our Millenicom Hotspot...which is actually a Verizon Jetpak...and added it and me to his plan.  We'll have 30 Gigs/month instead of 20 and will save $50 a month...a good deal.

This means we got new phones...Galaxy 5s.  I love my new phone, but when they transferred my contacts, they lost most of them!  It's been a pain recreating them and some are gone permanently...guess I didn't really need those anyway!  I've been with AT&T for so many years, it seems odd to now be with Verizon.  Oh well...a good deal's a good deal!

Next up, Tim's Place...

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Standing On A Corner...

We had an engine light come on in the truck on the drive back from Sedona.  Took the truck to have the error code checked and learned a thermostat was stuck open.  The Flagstaff Ford dealer couldn't fit us in before we were leaving so we decided to wait until we got to Holbrook, which was our next planned stop.

We stayed at the OK RV Park...typical desert landscape, long, level sites and good cable.  Jack took the truck in to the local Ford dealer and had a new thermostat put in. Since we were tired, we decided to spend a few days just relaxing.  Tried a few restaurants...Romo's is a Mexican place and every dish on the menu came with either red or green chili on it.  Jack liked it, I didn't.  We also tried Mesa was only mediocre but the prices rivaled a large city restaurant.  We ate at home after that!

Holbrook is not very far from Winslow. We couldn't pass up an opportunity to go down Route 66 and visit Winslow...which acheived fame in the Eagles' song Take It Easy.
For our grandchildren, who are not likely familiar with the song, the part about Winslow goes like this:

Well, I'm a standin' on a corner
In Winslow, Arizona

Such a fine sight to see

It's a girl my Lord

in a flat-bed Ford
Slowin' down to take a look at me

Take it easy, take it easy
Don't let the sound of your own wheels
Drive you crazy

Winslow is much smaller than I envisioned, there's very little there and what is there is not particularly pretty...but it has a corner and we stood on it. There's even a flatbed Ford parked on the corner!

We also met a nice couple from New Zealand touring the United States in their 1957 Mercedes-Benz 220S Ponton...they were nice enough to let me take some photos of their car.

Oh...I now have a "Standin' on the Corner" coozie.

Friday, November 7, 2014


While we were staying in Williams, we took a side trip to Sedona, Arizona.  It's an artistic area that is a bit of an oasis in the middle of the desert.  I had heard a lot about it and wanted to see it.  The road to Sedona is a bit harrowing.  My brother Glen warned me about it and he was right!  Up and down mountain roads with twists and turns and a 7% grade along part of it.  All I can say is that it's a good thing we were just in the truck and not pulling the fifth wheel! Sedona is worth the drive though.

We drove around a bit before we found a place to park, then we wandered around town, went in and out of shops and had a very expensive lunch...with some beautiful views.

I took a bunch of pictures, of course...