Friday, December 18, 2015

¡Dale Gas!

"Dale gas" (prounced like dolly gas with a long a sound) is a slang Spanish expression meaning “get goin” which we learned of while watching a local car commercial on TV in Los Fresnos.  So before we start out on the road - and get goin - let's party with the good friends in Los Fresnos.    A bounty of delicious appetizers were prepared with the loving hands of Karen as she and her husband, Terry (who are originally from Northern Minnesota) hosted this fun party.  Once again, thank you!
Terry & Karen

Everything was absolutely delicious!

Jan & Terry
December 2 was our first travel day for leaving Texas.

It started out with a stop for breakfast at the Flying J with our friend Richard.  This visit was two-fold as we wanted to take the motor home onto the truck scales to get it weighed so that we knew just exactly what kind of weight we were carrying.   We’re happy at a total weight of 37,720 pounds.   As we were walking outside to the parking lot, low and behold our good friends, Chip and Daisy, pulled up in their car after noticing the coach as they were driving by.  What an awesome surprise – more hugs around for everyone!

The road heading north took us into the Hill Country of Texas for at least a half day of driving before it got dark.  Interstate 10 in Texas is the major east-west interstate highway in the south US.  At just 880 miles it is the longest continuous untolled freeway in Texas.  Also said to be the longest stretch of highway a single destination within a single state.  Pretty amazing, isn’t it.  Our first overnight was at the Cypress Creek Rest Area, east of Kerrville and right in the heart of the Hill Country.  It was good to stop for the night with Jeff sleeping on the couch up front just to make sure that we were safe for the night.

The next morning we had already decided to put on a few more miles since starting fairly early in the morning after the sun came up.  It did prove to be quite the day as we were tooling down the interstate.  Kay drove a little over 140 miles to give Jeff a little bit of a break before turning the wheel over to him.  She is sure glad that Jeff was driving when the alarm sounded within the motor home telling us that we had no air for our brakes.  OMG!!!!  Jeff was able to immediately get off the interstate by taking the next available exit that was right in front of us (Exit 206 at Balmorhea), using the brake pedal to come to a smooth stop.  The time was 2:30p.m.  From what we know about air brakes, when you loose air your tires should lock up and you stop pretty suddenly.  This was not the case for us as we came to a pretty smooth stop with brakes still operating.   What a nightmare trying to find someone who could help, let alone get a tow truck to come  the distance and get us!  Either we were too far away as in the case of El Paso and they didn’t want to drive the miles – and to get towed there would have definitely broke the bank – to finally finding someone back at Fort Stockton (about 53 miles  who located a tow truck to come and get us.

Kay did a lot of praying to St Joseph that night.

To make a long story short . . . diagnostics were run that next day and nothing came up pointing to an air leak of any kind.  And the odd thing about it all is that in the morning Jeff started the motor home and our air pressure was back to normal.  Go figure!   Jeff assisted one of the mechanics with re-installing the drive shaft that morning, as four hands are better than two at lifting up an awkward 80# of weight lying on your backs underneath the motor home.
The women always love a man in uniform!
After having quite a few phone conversations with a good many people, they believe it could be the air governor for our brakes that needs to be replaced.  Jeff contacted a Certified Spartan truck dealer in Phoenix (Massey Diesel Repair) and will see them the week after Christmas to get this taken care.  We are anxious to get it resolved so that we don’t have to worry about going through another “towing” episode again if we can help it.
Next stop, New Mexico and a new RV park that we read about in our Escapee’s magazine.  We usually stay in Deming at the Escapee's Dream Catcher RV Park when we’re passing through but thought we’d check out Rusty’s RV Ranch in Rodeo NM.

This park is pretty much right on the border of Arizona (directly on the other side of the Chiricahua National Monument that we had visited earlier this year.  This park is VERY big rig friendly with pull-thrus approximately 200 feet long.    The 360 degree mountain views make this a little hidden gem from most RV parks - to the West the Arizona Chiricahua Mountains and to the East in New Mexico, the Peloncillo Mountains. 

The park sits on 40 acres with full hook-ups and has a clubhouse, swim spa, outdoor Gazebo and a lovely water garden.


And when the weather is warmer the birding is supposed to be spectacular as well as the heavenly stargazing that graces the skies in this area.  We're told that it is quite an astronomer’s paradise.  What is so amazing about this park is that all of the sites were converted to solar power made possible with the 204 solar panels that provide almost 100% of their electricity.

We would definitely recommend this park and hope to be back when the weather is just a wee bit warmer.  The staff at Rusty's was very friendly and we met some new friends from Deming who love the outdoors just as much as we do.  A good visit all around.  At an elevation of approx. 4400 feet it did prove to be 2-blanket sleeping at night but we managed the 5 days that we stayed and had a very good rest.  Sunrises and sunsets are absolutely beautiful here.

Lee & Sharon from Deming
Staying grounded for these days gave us a chance to unwind even more by taking a Jeep trip to Douglas and Bisbee, Arizona.  We have always had a good experience in Bisbee and this time was no different.  Taking in a visit to a new eating establishment for us this time around to taste their beef brisket sandwich with a beer chaser at the Stock Exchange Saloon was definitely on the menu.

And with our growler in hand (from our last visit to Bisbee Brewery) we made sure to get it filled up before we headed back to the RV Park some 65 miles to the north.  A very fun day and the weather was sunny!

It is once again time to bring in the slides and position all things securely in the coach as we drive around Tucson's maze of highways on our way to Apache Junction, Arizona.  We stopped for an overnight at the Tom Mix Monument outside of Florence on Hwy 79 before heading further north to the Superstition Mountains.

Jeff knew who Tom Mix was so it was good to read up on his days as a legendary cowboy film actor between 1909 and 1935.  The grounds at this site were very clean and large enough for us to find a corner near a mesquite tree to spend the night.

 History of Tom  Mix

It’s funny when you’ve been to an area more than once that you pretty much feel at home knowing which roads to take.  This is how we feel when we are driving into Apache Junction on our way to the Lost Dutchman State Park.  It is here that we plan to catch up on some special "cooking" and to make a stop to visit Jeff’s first cousin, Carol and her husband Dale for an evening of delicious home cooked food, lively conversation and much laughter reminiscing.  Carol is making us dinner on our last night here before we drive into Phoenix for appointments on the motor home.

Chef Jeff getting his Italian Sausage Lasagna ready

Now, that's Italian!!

Beef Stew with Rosemary & Mushrooms

Cous' Carol & hubby Dale
Nestled in amongst the Saguaro & Ocotillo
The Superstition Mountains
The date is now December 15 and we are on our way into Glendale, a suburb of Phoenix, for an appointment at D & R's Family RV for a few changes and additions to the coach that we wanted to make.  Ron and his wife are the owners and their staff are Stuart and Shane.  The four days that we stayed in their fenced in work area to observe all that was being done on the coach was truly amazing as everyone was a very dedicated, hard working individual with a lot of RV tech smarts.  We definitely couldn't have done any of this by any means with the tools that we carry.

This is what our wish list included:

1) one new solar panel to be added to the roof and then to have all three wired into a new controller box for us.  This will give us 20 amps/hour of electricity for when we should need or want it when we are dry camping

2) purchase and install a Winegard Trav'ler DirecTV satellite dish that would make our lives easier with a touch of a button - to raise and lower the dish as it finds all satellites quickly and efficiently.  NO MORE DISH NETWORK.  HURRAY!!!!! 

3) an inside connection for our catalytic heater that will run off propane so that we don’t need to run the furnace in cooler weather.  With the connection at this location near the refrigerator we can use it in the living area or bring it around so that we can have heat in the bathroom and bedroom areas.

4) out with the old (non-HD TV) and in with a new unit that will have the capability of picking up the HD programs that will tie into our roof top satellite.  Getting the surround sound working too will really help as most of the new LED TV's have the speakers behind the front of the TV.  Not too good for RV's, so this will really help us with the sound for us "ole folks".

5) the ability to use an Extend-A-Stay that connects to a 30# propane cylinder that we would use first before having to use the propane from the underbelly tank of the coach. 

6) installation of an automatic generator start detects that there has been a loss of power and should fire up the generator automatically.  This will definitely aid us if the battery levels go low as we don't want to be stranded out in the desert looking for AAA to come and jump-start us .  Our Guardian Angel, Helen is watching over us as we travel.

Once we have everything completed we will be heading northwest of Phoenix to Lake Pleasant Regional Park.  We will stay at the Lake and then come in for a Christmas Eve service in Cave Creek at the Light of the Desert Lutheran Church.  Our scheduled appointment at the Spartan dealer is on Monday, 12/28 so we will leave Lake Pleasant on the 27th and stay at a Flying J close to the dealer for the Monday appointment.  After that, we continue on the road toward Yuma and BLM land at Ogilby Road in SE California.

We wish everyone a Merry Christmas & Happy New Year.  We'll be sharing new adventures with you in 2016.

Hugs ~

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Cool & Unique

As we wait for better weather for fishing on the Gulf we are enjoying some of the simple things in life on South Padre Island.  We came across this particular item on an app called “Field Trip” that gave us the idea for this Blog post titled, Cool & Unique.

It was the World’s Largest Fly Rod & Reel that caught our attention (imagine that!).  The towering yellow rod points skyward, angled to hook an equally large Gulf tarpon.  The 70 foot long fly rod was certified as World’s Largest in 1999 by the Guinness World Records.  It is a functional fly rod made of fiberglass with a working, 4 ft. diameter reel.  In fact there is a tarpon that can be seen leaping out of the water just off Pirate’s Landing Fishing Pier nearby.  A sign in front of the fly rod says that the operation of the fly rod would require the combined strength of two dozen strong men or one large Texan!  But, first they will have to repair the fishing line and the upper portion of the rod which appears to have been neglected along the years.  Still, it was something pretty unusual.

We met our good friends, Chip & Daisy, for lunch in Port Isabel at Joe’s Oyster Bar. They ordered oysters on the half shell to start and then followed that with fried oysters.  We  ordered their 8 pc grilled shrimp which was absolutely delicious.  Other menu items include flounder and fresh crab cakes – fried, grilled or baked per your liking.   What an awesome get-together with friends.

On another particular day that was not good for fishing we took a road trip to Port Mansfield.  From the RV park where we are it is pretty much 120 miles round trip.  Not much has changed since we visited this area 3 years ago - but the ride is always fun.  Port Mansfield is famous for the miniature deer that roam the town, but still excels as a major marina for this area on the Gulf.  We met a fellow back at the RV park that charters his 25 ft. fishing boat through this Port and calls it, Reel Therapy.  We hope that he'll be able to take us (plus two other people) fishing for Red Snapper.  How awesome would that be?  Time and weather permitting will definitely dictate that for us before we leave.

It’s always fun to visit a Mexican bakery and here in South Texas is no different.  I think the best one we can honestly say that we’ve been to is Ornela’s Bakery in Rio Hondo.  Fresh and delicious pastries of all kinds are attractively displayed that will make your mouth start to drool.  Keep in mind though that most of their baking is probably done with Lard, so it’s not on the top of the “healthy for you” list.  Not extremely sweet for pastries but entirely reasonably and the variety is awesome.  The little market attached features Mexican Coke (in bottles), homemade tortillas and other Mexican snacks.  The ladies were so sweet to let us take some pictures.  We’re still working on the apple fritters here at home . . . they are the size of a saucer and very sinful!

Horses on the Beach and a Wind Farm in the distance.




A mini rainbow to end a perfect afternoon . . .
Live your best life.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Miles to Travel from Minnesota to Texas

Header Photo - Sunset over the Gulf of Mexico at Port Lavaca

We did something that we have never done before and that was to go to an RV rally that shares a commonality with the Newmar brand.    An invite to this rally after we purchased our new home on wheels was the 6th Annual Quartzsite ~ North Rally at Steinbring Motorcoach in Garfield, Minnesota.   This is definitely a northern twist on the infamous Quartzsite extravaganza held in Arizona in January.   Held the weekend of September 11-13 this event brought together some 40+ rigs – all of whom had purchased their coaches from this particular dealer – most from in and around Minnesota with a couple from Nebraska who made the 10 hour trip.   
At the Rally, we couldn’t pass up the tour and wine tasting that was set up for the group at Burr Vineyards.   It was a beautiful day and provided some interesting conversation around the table.

Our new home does take us to some interesting places where we park to rest, enjoy family and friends and seek out new adventures.
Travel stop . . . Baker Park Reserve, Medina MN
We stayed at this campground on two separate occasions this past summer when the camping season was coming to a close.  A very nice park.

. . . Karen & Ron’s, Mondovi WI
Our good friends who shared their home for the six days that we were back in Wisconsin to see family and friends.  We had a super time and Karen surprised us with breakfast on the morning that we were going to be leaving.  What an awesome couple.

. . . Cabela’s, Owatonna MN
From Wisconsin we headed back to Minnesota for our final goodbye's to more family and then down the road we went.  Because we usually do not travel on the weekends, our first stop-over for an overnight was in the parking lot of Cabela's.  And of course, a walk into the store in to see if there was anything we need in the fishing department. 

. . . Kansas Turnpike, Travel Center at Emporia
On this day of travel, we can say that we pushed ourselves to put on some miles but it really was the wind that did that.  We are so glad that we have Comfort Drive Steering (auto centering) on the coach that compensates for gusty winds as you are driving, easy turning and backing up when needed.

Quite a beautiful sunrise the morning that we left after getting some much needed sleep.
. . . Lake Murray State Park, Ardmore OK
At the suggestion of our good friend, Richard, we decided to check out this State Park.  Located right off the interstate and close to the Texas border, it proved to be a very nice place to set up our home for what we thought was only going to be a 2 day stay.  Unfortunately, Hurricane Patricia was just then becoming news-worthy so 2 days turned into 6 days.  The the Rio Grand Valley was getting pretty drenched and we just didn't want to be in it at all.   So glad that we waited at this park.

It was raining pretty good here too!

. . . Magnolia Beach, Port Lavaca TX
Our first time at this beach was 3 years ago when we were headed to South Texas for our first winter as retirees.  We thought it was a unique place so we decided to put in our reservation right down on the beach again.   It is so soothing to hear the waves from our open windows, and the beach which is made of up shells does a perfect job of maintaining our home on solid ground.  When the tide comes up. . .we move out!
. . . Holiday Out RV Park, Los Fresnos TX. . .WE HAVE ARRIVED!
This is our first time at this park and very close to South Padre Island for travel.  By Jeep the Gulf is about 20 miles (one way) with an additional 6 miles to Beach Access #6 where we enter.  With all of the rain that fell in this area it was quite a sight to see all of the flooding in the fields in this area.

After entering this access through some initial soft sand there is another 25 miles of beach to the north, available to find just that right fishing spot.


Right now we are having fun fishing and will investigate other fishing opportunities if time permits.  It's great to see some of the people that we met when we were here previously, catching up on each other's lives. 

So you ask, how many miles did we travel from Minnesota to our Texas destination?  It was 1,496.

Live your best life!