Photo taken at Winchester Bay, Oregon

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

A Mixed Bag: Kneeling Pads, Fan Belts, Salsa, BBQ and Nostalgia

At Lufkin KOA, Lufkin, Texas...

Finally! The stitches have been removed from my overhauled knee, just as the redbuds come into full bloom here in southeast Texas. I feel a stirring from within as the trees timidly issue little feelers of green sprouts, obviously fearful of the dreaded Easter cold spell that the ancients always talk about as inevitable.

So, what is this stirring that I'm starting to feel inside as I view the ever-so-nascent tiptoeing into spring? No, it's not that; don't be silly; I'm a septuagenarian. It's hitch itch, of course! 

With visions of bringing the long-idle diesel to life and driving away soon, I make the trek around Phannie's six wheels and check the tire pressures, which I expect to have dropped a bit after several weeks immobile in the cold weather. Now, if you were paying attention, you will remember that I mentioned above that I just had the stitches removed after my knee surgery, and you may be wondering how I could kneel, in my delicate condition, at each tire to check the air pressure? The answer is that I can't yet--that is, on the left knee--it's still a little tender. Why not bend over, you say? Oh please; you must be kidding! 

Well, that's a perfect setup to show you the cool kneeling pad I bought that has proved to be worth every penny:  

(While you're looking at it, take note of the water filter cartridge in the foreground; I'll be talking about that a little later.)

It's a ProFlex 380 foam kneeling pad, available from Amazon. Although it's called a foam pad, this is not foam in the usual sense, but a quite rigid pad that will provide protection from rocks and gravel while providing a degree of softness to the knees. It folds in two and can easily be tucked away with a very narrow footprint in a storage bay. I especially like the large size of the pad when unfolded. Sometimes it is necessary to spend quite a while kneeling or even sitting on the ground beside the coach while I'm tending to something and, if the ground surface is rock or gravel, it can be murder on my kneecaps or gluteus maximus, of which I have more than ample. But hey, no problem with pad, as it covers plenty of ground to sit and even spread out tools if I like.

Now, you may be a little underwhelmed by this discovery, especially since it will run you north of thirty bucks. Well, I get that, but you should know that it is one of a few really important and helpful things that I use almost every day, and I wouldn't want to be without it, no sir.  

Now, back to the water filter pictured above. You can see that this sucker is dirty, I mean, really dirty. I had sort of forgotten to change it for a while (out of sight, out of mind), and it was choked with sand and no telling what else. It finally dawned on me as to the problem when the faucet pressure inside the coach began to get weak enough to be noticeable.  I was appalled to realize how much gunk we had picked up over the last several months. I now have a reminder set for filter changeout every quarter, and I hope this is about the right frequency.

Departure day finally came, and we turned Phannie eastward toward U. S. 59 that would take us toward our Branson, Missouri destination in a few days. I made a brief stop in tiny Shepherd, Texas to pick up some favorite salsa from a local vendor who makes it in small batches to sell at flea markets and online; it's a little on the garlicky side, and I like that. They also have a milder version, but no self-respecting Texan would be caught buying such a thing.

Okay, some of you will probably be curious where to get it, so you can look it up at But don't get in a hurry for it; they sometimes run out and can't always get another batch into the queue right away. They have lots of stuff like this, and it's all good. In fact, I think I'm going to get up from the computer and open a jar right now. And I know right where the tostadas are.

I parked Phannie beside McLain's grocery, where the salsa is sold and, since it would take only a few minutes to go inside and pick up the salsa, I left Phannie's engine running when I left the coach. As soon as I exited the door, I heard a noise from the engine compartment that I didn't like. Listening closely, it sounded like a chirping fan belt, and I knew this wasn't good; the belt could probably swarm at any time, and I am not fond of breakdowns on the side of the highway.

We stopped down the road at a favorite catfish place for lunch, and I began to call around to see if I could find someone to replace the belt on a Friday afternoon. I was anything but optimistic. Then I called the San Jacinto Truck Center in Shepherd, and found myself talking to the owner, Cruz. He was very interested in helping me and asked for the engine and chassis serial numbers. He said he could have the belt in an hour, so we finished lunch and drove about ten miles to his shop, which was in the middle of nowhere outside the tiny town of Shepherd. The ramshackle facility was surrounded by perhaps a dozen large diesel trucks in various states of repair where a small army of uniformed mechanics worked diligently under Cruz's direction. I drove into the parking lot, and Phannie seemed terribly out of place among the many well-worn and dirty trucks. Cruz met me immediately and, before long, his son arrived from Houston with the new fan belt and a tensioner pulley. With these in hand, he motioned for two mechanics to do the installation. This took a while, as the mechanics clearly had not worked on a motorhome before and didn't know that the top of the engine could only be accessed from inside the coach. But once they had access to the engine from above and below, they knew exactly what to do and appeared to do a fine job.

As I had expected, the old fan belt was shot. The sparkling new one worked fine, and we left Cruz's shop as darkness fell. We were very late arriving in Lufkin, where we would spend a few days visiting friends and relatives in east Texas, but I felt incredibly lucky to have found Cruz; I don't think any other outfit would have tackled this on a Friday afternoon, and I would otherwise have been on pins and needles worrying about an imminent breakdown. The lesson here, I guess, is to walk around your rig now and then while the engine is running. If there's something amiss, it may make itself known as it did this time for me.

The next day, we took a drive through my ancestral homeland of east Texas, stopping at Hemphill Barbeque, deep in the woods outside of town. The place had Bible verses on the walls along with this bit of decor:

Just call it a guess, but I suppose these may be some of the many southern folks "clinging to their guns and religion," as Obama infamously said. Well, since I'm one of those, I felt right at home here, along with the other patrons, among whom probably half were carrying. I thought to myself, this would not be a good place to try a holdup.

The barbeque? Very good, especially the ribs, which were perfectly cooked with a killer sauce:

After lunch, we drove to a campground on Lake Sam Rayburn where friends Dick and Judy are workamping for the summer. We had a nice visit, even taking time for a game of Rummikub, which Dick promptly won, unfortunately. These are really good folks although, judging by this photo, Dick seemed on this day to be having a bit of an identity crisis, obviously pretending to be a locomotive engineer: 

After much conversation and many laughs, we said goodbye and wished them well, stopping nearby at a roadside stand to pick up some freshly cooked pork cracklins. This is a quaint sampling of rural Texana that you don't see everywhere, and I do love to stop and talk to these locals and see their homespun offerings when I can:

Crunching on a perfectly cooked spicy cracklin', I turned the car north toward San Augustine and Center, Texas. Center, a small town near the Louisiana border, has a special meaning to me, for the local airport was the site where I took my first airplane ride when I was about eight years old. I had not returned until this very day:

Sandy and I lingered here where I located the spot where I had climbed aboard the ancient little fabric-winged Aeronca Champ some 63 years ago. The airplane was exactly like this one:

And, oddly enough, this was the same type of airplane in which I flew my first solo flight when I was 16, about eight years later.

During my ride from the Center airport, the little airplane was flown by its owner who, along with several other local pilots, were giving rides in their airplanes for a donation to charity. My parents ponied up the donation for two flights, and I was totally hooked. From that day forward, I knew exactly what I wanted to do for a career--fly airplanes. And that's exactly what I did. 

This was a very nostalgic moment for me, and I thought to myself that reliving the past must be what people do a lot of when they get old. I guess there's nothing wrong with that, especially if the times remembered were good ones, as almost all of mine are, thankfully.
The next day, we had lunch with longtime friends John and Pat and, at the restaurant, we ran into my aunt Joyce and cousin Brenda! We just got to do all sorts of visiting that day, and enjoyed it immensely.

Pat and John
The next morning dawned cold on our departure day from Lufkin, and we said goodbye to the vast east Texas forest lands of my youth and pointed Phannie toward Little Rock, where we would overnight on our way to visit friends in Branson. It was good to be back on the road again!

Thank you, Lord, for this wonderful life; 
please forgive me if I don't appreciate it as I should each day.

I had rather own little and see the world than to own the whole world and see little of it. 
--Alexander Sattler

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Time to Fly Again!

At the Lake Conroe Thousand Trails, Willis, Texas...

February has been one of the gloomiest months I ever recall here in this part of Texas. According to a local TV news station, we have had no fewer than 22 of its 28 days that were cloudy, and we've had a boatload of rain! Since the last couple of days were really nice, I thought I would go ahead and do a little flying to catch up my 90-day flying currency (required by regulation if passengers are carried). I rented the little Cessna 172 at Huntsville and Sandy went along as copilot. Unfortunately, the grandkids weren't available, but we will have to take them up soon to quell what will certainly be their noisy disapproval at missing this occasion.

We did some flying around Conroe and then down to the North Houston airport, where we will be picking up the boys next time we go flying. This was a tiny strip in the middle of a housing development that grew up around the airport. The owner of the airstrip has doggedly refused to sell the airport land for development, so he is sitting on some very valuable property. The short, narrow runway will handle only light airplanes, so there's no jet noise; maybe that's how the little airport survives its improbable location:

One of the interesting things about approaching the runway from the north (bottom of the photo above) are the two large trees alongside the final approach path (circled). I think I may have scared some birds perched in the trees as the airplane glided by on approach a few feet away. I'm not sure how comfortable I would be landing here at night.

We flew at relatively low altitude back to Huntsville, looking at familiar landmarks below, including the Thousand Trails compound on Lake Conroe where Phannie is parked. Here is a photo of my iPad that Sandy is holding--the modern replacement for paper aeronautical charts that were standard in my day. Although I didn't really need any navigation charts today, it helps me avoid the restricted areas that overlay the busy Houston area:

As I mentioned in previous posts, the basic mechanics of flying are the same, whether it is in a tiny airplane like this or a commercial jet; things just happen a little faster in the latter, and, oh yes, you have flight attendants to bring you stuff. For this little period of time, I can recall the feel of all the airplanes I have flown, and the memories are really good. Sandy watches me with a degree of wonderment as I adjust, unthinkingly, the engine power, flight controls and trim as needed while we climb, descend and turn. I am comfortable here, having spent many thousands of hours in this environment. I tend to forget that it is not this way for everyone.

Sometimes I also forget that my hair has turned to silver, as is obvious in the photo below; it has been that color for quite a long time. I remember one flight before departure in a DC-9, parked at the gate in Shreveport, Louisiana, in which my hair color, surprisingly, became an issue. I was sitting in the left cockpit seat with the cockpit door still open while the passengers were boarding. Suddenly, an older female passenger brushed beside the flight attendant and poked her head into the cockpit, tapping me on the shoulder. I looked around at her, and she said, "Just checking to see that you have gray hair; I don't fly with captains who don't have some gray hair." I smiled and said, "I can assure you, madam, that this is my real hair color and that you have made my day." Seemingly satisfied, she strode to her seat, and I didn't hear another peep from her. And yes, that story is the honest truth.

We're lined up on final approach to runway 18 in Huntsville; the flight is nearly over:

Below: Touchdown! I didn't fully compensate for a left crosswind, landing slightly right of runway centerline. Sloppy, Mike; very sloppy. I obviously need more practice. Yes, that's it, more practice! And the sooner, the better! 

It was a good day; I can't wait to take the grands for their ride.

Thank you, Lord, for this wonderful life; 
please forgive me if I don't appreciate it as I should each day.

I had rather own little and see the world than to own the whole world and see little of it.  
--Alexander Sattler

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Surgery Success, More New Friends and a Blast From the Past

At Lake Conroe Thousand Trails, Willis, Texas...

I'm hoping that the successful outcome of the surgical repair of my meniscus will signal our nearing the end of the medical and dental issues that have confounded our travel plans this winter. In regard to this procedure on my knee, I wasn't prepared for the dramatic improvement just one day afterward. Houston is not my favorite city in my beloved state, but this place does have some fine physicians. In the photo below, it's easy to see my pleasure at the post-surgical checkup by Dr. Launikitis:

This guy knows what he's doing. I was expecting a much more invasive procedure, but he did the work through two small incisions in the knee, into one of which was inserted a camera, and the surgical instruments were manipulated through the other. All of the work was done by the surgeon and an assistant while looking at the camera's image on a screen above the operating table. The incisions (one of which was still covered) can be seen below. The indentations are from the  bandage wrapping that had just been removed:

I'll be getting the stitches out in about a week and, hopefully, that will be that.

I'll be heading to the dermatologist next to have my yearly face-freezing to remove the little pre-cancerous lesions that seem to plague some of us with very fair skin. As far as I know, that will finally be the end of all this medical falderol although, for a while, my face will look like I have leprosy or something.

We had the good fortune to run into friends Dick and Judy again while we are here at Thousand Trails. We took them to Vernon's in Conroe for some good catfish one evening, and we had lots of fun talking and carrying on:

Then Dick and Judy introduced us to new friends Richard and Karen, who joined us for pizza on another evening. We do enjoy meeting such fun and interesting people in this lifestyle:

Since my posts seem a little sparse when we're not traveling, I'm going to fool around with posting some 'blasts from the past.' I'm sure few readers go way back in this blog 13 years ago when we first started RVing, so I thought I would post a few pics from the earliest years forward and say a few things about them. This first photo is from the very first day of our very first RV trip on May 13, 2005:

We learned so many lessons during our first few years of RVing. This was a relatively inexpensive Jayco fifth wheel that we grew to despise because of its terrible floor plan and single air conditioner! In Texas! What were we thinking?! What is not shown is a Jayco bumper-pull trailer that lasted in our possession for one day! That's all it took for me to realize that it wasn't something I wanted to hitch up and pull with our Suburban. The next day, I took it back to the dealer and canceled the sale, swapping it for this fifth wheel. I also scurried around and bought a Dodge diesel truck to pull it. The Dodge truck I loved and eventually traded for a newer one.

During that trip--to Florida--we stayed at the tony Emerald Beach RV Resort in Panama City and thought we were in tall cotton! It was a beautiful park, and in the post I complained about how unbelievably expensive it was--$40 a night! How times have changed!

I also noticed on that post a comment from longtime RV blogger friends Gordon and Juanita that I believe to be our first contact with them. We ultimately met up and became good personal friends years later.

On our way back from Florida, we also toured the McIlhenny Tabasco factory on Avery Island, Louisiana:

This was a really interesting stop, and I would recommend it for everyone. (As I look at this photo, I realize that I still have in my closet that shirt from 13 years ago; I'm not sure what to say about that, but I will admit that it's getting a little faded nowadays. You might say that I'm not much of a shopper.)

Well, what do you think? Does this old stuff have any appeal? It's fun for us to look back through 500 blog posts over 13 years, but I'm not sure that would hold true for anyone else.

Thank you, Lord, for this wonderful life; 
please forgive me if I don't appreciate it as I should each day.

I had rather see the world and own little than to own the whole world and see little of it.  
--Alexander Sattler

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Medical Issues, Neat Gadgets and Good Friends

At Lake Conroe Thousand Trails, Willis, Texas...

Not too long ago, I mentioned in a post that our health seems to have improved after we began fulltiming. I didn't knock on wood at the time, although I knew better. So what do I get for that omission? Besides the recently mangled finger I wrote about, I now have in my left knee a torn meniscus that will need surgery. I have to tell you that this has been a winter quite unlike any other when it comes to the number of visits to doctors,  dentists and optometrists. Usually, when we set aside some time each year to take care of routine medical and dental issues, we get by quite nicely with just a little fine tuning here and there. This time, it seemed like we needed a major overhaul!

Thankfully, my upcoming surgery is by no means serious and will not require an overnight hospital stay. I really have no right to whine like this; I'm getting old, and this is what happens to old people. And, since I've never gotten old before, this is all new to me; perhaps I can be forgiven until I get used to it!

Since we have been doing a lot of sitting around between doctor visits, I tend to spend a lot of time on the Internet. I ran across an ad for some neat connectors that I wondered why hadn't been invented before now. One is a short hose that fits Phannie's fresh water filler receptacle, on the end of which is an ergonomically-designed grip that makes connecting a hose so easy:

I just leave this in place all the time and no longer have any difficulty connecting the water hose. (And yes, I've tried the quick-connect thingies before and not had very good luck with them.) I'll tell you where to get this gadget later, if you're interested.

Offered by the same company are TV cables whose end fittings follow the same concept. Have you ever had impure thoughts about those tiny nuts they put on these cables? Only Lucifer himself could have devised anything this difficult to get started on the little threaded post on which it is supposed to fit:

Here's the solution: Cables with big plastic grippers formed around the little nuts to enable you to spin them onto the post with no difficulty at all:

There; aren't you jealous?  Well, you needn't be; you can get these with a few clicks of your computer mouse at The guy who makes them is Jim Wright, and he is the real deal in terms of honesty and the proud maker of a quality product.  And, just so you'll know, I have no financial interest in promoting these products. I just happen to like them.

There is, of course, an upside to spending extra months here in the Conroe area where the kids live. We have thoroughly enjoyed our extra interaction with them, and we'll be sad to leave for the summer. (I suppose this will be when the doctors let us go after having taken delivery of their new Mercedes we've bought them.) We also have a number of RV friends who travel through the area from time to time. Chip and Diane visited a few weeks ago, and we just concluded a nice visit with Steve and Jackie below:

We had a lot of fun with these neat folks going to restaurants, movies and playing games and, oh yes, the girls did do some shopping (what with, I don't know; the doctors and drug makers have all our money). We feel so fortunate to have connected with a number of couples like these who have become dear friends. In Steve's and Jackie's case, as with others, it was purely good luck; we just happened to park Phannie beside them one day and struck up a conversation.  

More later; let's all remember that spring is just around the corner!

Thank you, Lord, for this wonderful life; 
please forgive me if I don't appreciate it as I should each day.

I had rather own little and see the world than to own the whole world and see little of it. 
-- Alexander Sattler.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Fulltiming Status: Two Years In and What We've Learned

At Thousand Trails Lake Conroe, Willis, Texas...

For those who may be interested in getting into fulltime RV living or those friends of ours who are still scratching their heads at our having done this, here is a status report:

With the press of a button and a whoosh of compressed air, Phannie's parking brake was released two years ago, and I drove her away for the last time from the custom-built house we no longer owned in Fort Worth. Almost everything we possessed was aboard this giant box-like vehicle that measures 40 ft. by 8 ft. in driving configuration.

The previous six months had been a blur. We had been frantically downsizing from a lifetime of accumulating things we found we didn't need or even want any longer. Even though we had downsized several years ago to the house we were now leaving, there were endless trips to charities and offloads to the kids of things they probably didn't want, either.

You see, we didn't know we were going to do this until late summer of 2015, six months before we pulled the trigger on January 23, 2016. We had just returned from a wonderful two-month trip to the Pacific Northwest in Phannie, and we found ourselves almost resenting the need to return and begin anew the endless house caretaking chores. After so much adventure and so much freedom, we couldn't stand the idea of being confined again within four walls; we felt, to a degree, that we were heading back to prison. We loved traveling in Phannie; we had everything we needed in a comfortable environment, and we just moved endlessly from one beautiful place to the next. Who wouldn't resent having to give that up? 

And so we made the decision then and there. It would not be prison for us; it would be freedom. In the throes of uprooting that followed, some things were probably done a bit clumsily, but everything ultimately fell into place, and we recorded it all previously in this journal.

It helped that we had a frame of reference as to what it meant to become a fulltimer. We had become good friends with some other bloggers who went through the transition, and their journals provided valuable insight as to what we could expect. Since becoming fulltimers ourselves, we've met scores of other folks who have done the same thing, so we now have a sense of community that we thought we might be losing in Fort Worth. As it turned out, we didn't lose our longtime friends near our stick-and-brick home; we just don't see them as often, but we keep up with them on social media.  

As it turns out, the success of someone's entering this lifestyle seems dependent upon three things: 1) psychology and temperament, 2) health and 3) financial wherewithal. To me, these are equally important. In terms of psychology and temperament, most people appear to have a need to stay in an environment that is familiar and routine, with a strong sense of belonging, either to family, church or community or all of these. And there's nothing wrong with that; in fact, these citizens can be thought of as the bedrock of our society. God bless those who make our communities stable and desirable places to live and raise our families. Others stay put because they gain satisfaction from owning things and accumulating stuff, or from having a place to grow a garden or to set up a workspace to tinker with things. And there's nothing wrong with that, either. God bless those folks, too; if too many of them take to the road, it will be even harder to find a spot to park our RVs. (We did the same thing for 35 years and wished we had had this epiphany much sooner.)

Another aspect of a psychology and temperament useful for fulltiming is the compatibility one has with one's mate. If a couple is not prepared to live in very close quarters on a 24/7 basis, fulltiming is probably not for them. There is not much of an opportunity for having one's own 'space' or a man cave or something like that. However, for those fortunate enough--like us--to really enjoy being with each other, then it can be a blissful arrangement.

Being healthy enough to travel on a long term basis is vital, of course. We have been remarkably healthy up to this point, but we are beginning to notice that age is slowly catching up to us, requiring more visits to health professionals and more medication than we would like. We can only hope that it will be a while yet, however, until we have to hang up the keys. There is so much yet to see. Do we have an exit plan? Not really; but we don't worry about that--or much of anything else nowadays, for that matter. We'll just figure it out when the time comes.

As far as finances go, we find we prepared pretty well for that, but it was not without some adjustment in my thinking before retirement. I figured that our post-retirement living expenses would be considerably less than when I was working. My research indicated otherwise, however. Most people, I learned, do not really change their lifestyle all that much upon retirement, so their living expenses generally remain about the same; I found that to be true in our case while we still owned the house after we retired. Fortunately, our constant employment over the decades helped us achieve income sources that did not require us to find work after retirement. However, I must acknowledge that selling the house and one of the cars has allowed a considerable reduction in our expenses. Going fulltime then, was indeed good for our finances. However, we know many folks who do fulltiming with modest financial resources, but they are probably much better at budgeting and economizing than we would be. 

So, the obvious question would be--any regrets?  The answer is--absolutely none; it has been an incredible two years that have flown by!  Last summer our travels took us to 22 states, and we had a blast. All of our adventures were faithfully recorded herein, so we can go back and relive it whenever we like. And where will we go next? With the freedom we now have, the answer has to be--wherever we wish!

If you ask if there's anything we miss about living in a stick-and-brick house, it would have to be the church of which we have been longtime members. We often attend church on our travels, however, and we will find another home church when the time comes.

I really can't close without posting some photos from our travels over last summer, so here are just a few:

Thank you, Lord, for this wonderful life; 
please forgive me if I don't appreciate it as I should every day.

I had rather own little and see the world than to own the whole world and see little of it.  
--Alexander Sattler

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

The National Museum of the Pacific War and Killer BBQ

At Majestic Pines RV Resort, Willis, Texas...

Since our rally in Marble Falls was so close to Fredericksburg, we decided to drop in there and take a look at the Pacific War Museum. I had heard that it had seen a massive expansion and, since I am a WWII history buff, I really wanted to check it out. 

I must tell you that the museum is unrecognizable from the rather sparse exhibit that it was many years ago when I first visited it.  We were surprised at how large and well done it is, arranged as a labyrinthine timeline beginning with the ancient history of Japan's conflicted past and its quest for hegemony among its neighbors, the principal of which was China. I found this history particularly interesting and revealing, as I really didn't have a good understanding of the influences over centuries prior to WWII that led to its aggression toward the United States; this large exhibit explained it nicely. The exhibits continued until the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the resulting Japanese surrender. There were many other exhibits, some interactive, along with plenty of narrative, including a walking audio, that explained each presentation like, for example, a B-25 from the Doolittle raid over Tokyo:

Japanese defensive weapons:

A Willys WWII Jeep:

I found the interactive displays especially interesting, in that they depicted in a video presentation the strategy and plans for many of the most important battles in the Pacific theater.

As might be expected here in the hometown of Admiral Chester Nimitz, the Commander-in-Chief of the Pacific Fleet, his presence was certainly apparent in videos and in a separate building where his life story was presented:

What was evident from the presentations was that Nimitz, who eventually rose to the five-star rank of fleet admiral, was the right man in the right place at the right time to ensure Japan's defeat. His inspiring values of hard work, coolness under duress and wise decisions, along with a little good luck, served him and our country well. I found his strategy at the battle of Midway, about which a really good movie was made, particularly fascinating.

We weren't able to see the entire museum in one day, so we'll have to return to see it all. We couldn't stay any longer this time, as we needed to get back to Conroe for my (yuck) colonoscopy that has been scheduled for some time. And, while I'm on the subject of colonoscopies, if you are over 50 years old and not having these done every few years, you are playing Russian roulette with your life. I am an ardent proponent of these, having even devoted a couple of posts to the subject, one of which you can read here. You can also search on "colonoscopy" to see the other one.

On the way back, we stopped in Elgin at the Southside Market for some barbeque:

One of the nice things about this place was that it had a huge parking lot that would accommodate Phannie and even several other motorhomes as well. And the barbeque! Well, see for yourself:

This was their "small" brisket sandwich!  This large place also sports a meat market where you can buy their products like smoked meats and sausages. And yes, this goes on my list of favorite restaurants, linked over there in the right margin. 

We'll be in Conroe for a few more weeks, then we'll be making our way to Branson with an interim location yet to be determined. Stay tuned!

Thank you, Lord, for this wonderful life; 
please forgive me if I don't appreciate it as I should each day.

I had rather see the world and own little than to own the world and see little of it.  
--Alexander Sattler

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Rally Time Again and Pinky Trauma

At Sunset Point RV Resort, Marble Falls, Texas...

After the ridiculous cold spell in the Houston area, it felt good to fire up Phannie and head over to Marble Falls for the January rally of our Tiffin owners' club.  On the way, we stopped for a couple of nights at La Hacienda RV Resort in Austin to visit with fulltimer friends Steve and Jackie, who would accompany us later to Marble 
Falls in their Phaeton.  

Not wishing to pass up an opportunity to try new restaurants, Steve and Jackie took us to a couple of their favorites, and they quickly became favorites of ours, too! Now for those who get tired of reading about our constant foodie exploits, I say with the utmost affection: This is something you probably need to get over. Everybody has to eat, so why not talk about places that are interesting and exceptional? You may want to try them yourselves some day, right? And, by the way, these will be included in our favorites restaurant list linked over there in the right margin.

We loved the chipotle grilled pork chop and seasoned fresh corn at Verde's, an upscale Mexican grill:

Steve and Jackie
At Opie's BBQ, one must take off one's hat to their offerings of Texas smoked fare; they serve it the old fashioned way--until it runs out!

Besides having great BBQ, the owners also have side dishes to die for--things like spicy creamed corn, tater tot casserole, butterbeans and some killer cobbler. This place is some distance from Austin, out highway 71 to Spicewood, but worth the drive.

We traveled close behind Steve and Jackie out to Marble Falls, where we were obligated, of course, to have dinner at the legendary Bluebonnet Cafe. We had coupons for free pie, and that's all it took to get the whole bunch out there, and the food, fun--and pie--were great!

Earlier in the day, soon after our arrival at our site at Sunset Point, I had a slight accident while doing something I shouldn't have been doing--rushing--to get Phannie parked and set up and join our group for lunch. No, there was no damage to Phannie, just to my little finger that somehow I neglected to remove fully from a closing belly door. It nearly sliced the tip off my finger, and the result was, well, a little bloody, I'm afraid. We quickly headed for the hospital, where the wound was sewn up expertly with four stitches after I struggled, with the complication of my infirmity, to complete the endless paperwork that I think would have sufficed for a heart transplant.

I'm not going to show you the wound like some bloggers do when they suffer injuries (some of the photos included in their posts are pretty gruesome, and I never understood why they think their readers want to see that).

But, back to my pinky:  Okay, I can hear you out there right now: "For God's sake, Mike, what's the big deal?" Well, it wasn't a big deal but, for some reason, the fact that it was my pinky finger seemed automatically to diminish the seriousness of the wound to, well, zero in the minds of my "friends" in the club. I reminded them that it required four stitches, but that didn't seem to matter. I was going to get roasted about this.

Upon my return from the hospital, people who I previously thought were really nice, caring folks were merciless in their teasing me about my ineptness in doing something as simple as closing a bay door without requiring a hospital visit. I confess to egging them on by pretending to be largely "disabled" by the trauma--using a cane to walk and even pretending to need a footstool to get into a car. Totally ridiculous, of course, but hey--aren't we supposed to act more childish when we get old?

It was all great fun, of course, but perhaps less so for me than the others, as their fingers weren't the ones doing the throbbing, were they?

The next day was the regular club business meeting, where we also had 'Tech Talk,' a show and tell that's always a popular means of catching up on the latest info and gadgets for RVers. Chip leads this discussion and always does a fine job.

Many in the group were headed to Quartzsite after the rally, but we couldn't resolve some scheduling conflicts to make the trip ourselves. We're headed to Fredericksburg for a couple of days before returning to Conroe.  I'll have a post about that next time.

Thank you, Lord, for this wonderful life; 
please forgive me if I don't appreciate it as I should each day.

I had rather see the world and own little than to own the whole world and see little of it. 
--Alexander Sattler